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Thread: Physical Therapy

  1. #1

    Physical Therapy

    Hi, Everyone.

    I am wondering if any of you are quadriplegics and are physical therapists and/or if anyone can give me some contact info of some people who are. I have a friend who has wanted to be a physical therapist his whole life but had an accident that left him a C-5 quad. Vocational Rehabilitation has told him that it is not possible for him to do become a PT, but it is the only thing he wants to do. He also has full range of motion in his arms and partial movement in his hands and fingers. He knows of someone with a higher C-level than what he has who is a therapist, but the system doesn't want to work with him. He is one of the coolest guys I know and his patients would love him!!

    Two questions:

    1) Can anyone give me contacts of quads who are physical therapists?

    2) If so, does anyone know how to "work the system" of voc. rehab and colleges to apply for a pre-therapy/therapy degree? What's the best degree to go for before applying for PT later?

    Thanks a lot!!

  2. #2
    Senior Member Mike C's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2001

    There have been other quads who went on to get their medical degrees and are now medical doctors, so I can´t imagine why he cannot learn to become a PT. The first thing I would do is contact multiple universitys within the US and find out if having an SCI disqualifies a person from studying physical therapy and getting a degree. Make sure he gets those answers in writing with official letterhead. Then, make sure your friend has a written explanation from Vocab telling him he is incapable of learning this course of study because of his disability. I would then take the whole packet to a good lawyer, have it evaluated as to it´s legality, and take appropriate steps from there. I doubt Vocab could withstand a good lawyers threat of filing a disability discrimination lawsuit.
    "So I have stayed as I am, without regret, seperated from the normal human condition." Guy Sajer

  3. #3
    Senior Member Buffie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    lumpkin, ga
    I guess I can understand why they are hesitant to cooperate. Every pt I knew had to be able to physically maneuver patients with certain exercises. Will he be able to be a pt without this ability?

  4. #4
    Because so much of physical therapy is PHYSICAL and requires that the therapist be able to physically manipulate the patient, I would doubt that he would be able to find a program that would admit him, or an employer who would employ him. Keep in mind that the criteria is the ESSENTIAL functions of the job, and if those cannot be done, even with accomodations, then it is not considered discrimination under the ADA to deny employment, and the same pretty much applies to admission to schools. Nurses have the same issues, and few if any would be able to get into a school or be employed with this degree of physical disability.

    Nearly all the physicians I know with tetraplegia were already enrolled in medical school at the time of their injury, or were injured after they completed their medical training.

    Might he consider becoming an athletic trainer or coach instead?? A degree in physical education or kinesiology would be a start in that direction.


  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    I am uncomfortable with a PT who can not have control over my body. That is their job! I need to KNOW that my PT has the ability and strength to ease me down, should I fall. This is my delicate body that I entrust to my PT. I once had a delicately built intern PT. I could not perform to my best because I did not trust that she could protect me.

  6. #6
    Would it work if the PT was only a pediatric PT since that is basically the same stuff on a smaller scale?

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Currently, the shortest path to PT is a 6 1/2 year integrated doctorate program. My daughter is doing that now. Had she wanted to start first with her bachelors, she was told that biology, or any health related degrees were the best bet. ONe interesting requirement of all the programs that she applied to was some previous experience with PT. (Volunteer basically.) Her experience working along with me in therapy counted. (I guess, she got accepted.)

    I do think his disability would seriously limit his ability to do the job. I would think that he could only successfully work with minor injuries, where the patient didn;t need a lot of physical support. A lot of my PT depended on my confidence that my PT wouldn;t let me fall. That is a lot of school for a job that he would have difficulty competing in.

    eta. When she was applying, a lot of the information she was looking at grouped PT, OT and speech therapy together. Would speech therapy be an option?
    Last edited by sjean423; 03-20-2008 at 03:28 PM.
    T7-8 since Feb 2005

  8. #8
    Speech pathology can be a good option, but you will be looking at a doctorate for entry into practice in that discipline now...just be prepared for a LOT of school (and student loans!!!).


  9. #9
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  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Ella287
    Would it work if the PT was only a pediatric PT since that is basically the same stuff on a smaller scale?
    I acquired my first major dis from birth and had pt from very early on. PTs must be able to handle the weight of little patients and much more. I know mine did with me.

    Little babies and children make for uncooperative patients and are prone to wiggling, crying and moving what they can unexpectedly. While an adult client often understands the what's and why's of pt and is motivated to comply, it may not be the same with little children. In fact, for many, it probably isn't.

    Also, PTs often use play to encourage a child to do exercises. This playing occurs on floors, low PT tables and standing. It involves much movement. Quick reaction times are needed by the therapist because you never know what a child will do..

    I don't believe in never saying never. However, just because a patient is smaller doesn't necessarily mean that a tiny patient makes for an easier or less strenuous patient for the PT. Other than the difference in body weight and mass, children are likely more difficult than adults.

    Just my two cents.

    I hope your friend finds a way or finds a direction with which he will be happy in a career.

    BTW, ask him to join us here. There are questions he may wish to ask which he will not through you.


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