In-Patient Physical Therapy

As discussed in prior blog posts, there are several different populations physical therapists could work with. Previously discussed fields include early-childhood intervention, out-patient physical therapy, and geriatric physical therapy. The following post will discuss in-depth the advantages to working in an in-patient setting. This blog post would be ideal for undergraduate and graduate students pursing physical therapy, and those who want to know more details on a possible field.


2014. TERRIO Physical Therapy & Fitness, California. Web.

In-patient physical therapy differs from the other subsets of physical therapy mentioned prior. In the other subcategories of physical therapy, typically the physical therapists see a multitude of patients, all of whom travel to the physical therapist. Conversely, with in-patient physical therapy (also known as acute care therapy), the physical therapist works in a hospital or rehabilitation center, and they visit immobile patients. In-patient physical therapy is not for the faint; this field of physical therapy is typically the most traditionally medical, and this population of patients are usually the most severely injured. This population of patients cannot leave the hospital or rehabilitation center to visit an out-patient setting, so the physical therapists are localized in the hospital and visit each patient. Unlike out-patient physical therapy, where patients usually visit the clinic three times a week for an hour, in-patient physical therapy may occur for hours every day.

In-patient physical therapy could also be referred as an acute care field, because the goal is to see the patient for a short period of time, typically after a sudden or intense injury. As opposed to long-term or chronic care, the objective of acute care physical therapy is to treat the patient until they are mobile enough to visit a long-term clinic, such as out-patient therapy.

While intense, in-patient physical therapy could be extremely rewarding. A common location of in-patient physical therapy occurs in hospitals that service men and women in the armed forces. Nearby is Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where men and women in the Army receive treatment. Physical therapists that work for Walter Reed may see Army personnel right after a war injury. Treatment may “start from scratch” and culminate with the patient gaining the mobility to leave the hospital. More information on volunteering can be found by following this link. Another website close to this area for students interested in volunteering in an acute care setting is the University of Maryland Rehabilitation & Orthopaedic Institute. This center sees a variety of patients, many of whom just underwent orthopaedic surgery. In most rehabilitation centers, the surgeries and therapies occur in the same location to assist the needs of patients with limited mobility.


University of Maryland Rehabilitation & Orthopaedic Institute. 2012. Baltimore. Web.

In-patient physical therapists only constitute a small minority of physical therapists, approximately only 5 percent of all certified physical therapists work in an acute-care setting. While the amount of physical therapists in this setting are smaller than other fields, they typically make a little bit more money than the median salary. In-patient physical therapists make approximately $78,000 annually, while the median salary is $76,000. This demographic information can be found here.

In-Patient Physical Therapy

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