Physical Therapy Statistics

20 Intriguing Physical Therapy Statistics (And Facts)

There is so much to learn about physical therapy!

Not just about the size of the industry and number of professionals practicing, but also the amazing benefits of the treatment.

Physical Therapy Stats and Facts: A Quick Summary

  • There are currently 233,350 physical therapists registered in the US.
  • The average physical therapy clinic sees between 101 and 200 patients each week.
  • The physical therapy industry in the US is worth $33 billion.
  • Employment of physical therapists is expected to grow 18% by 2029.
  • The average physical therapist earns $89,440.
  • Physical therapy can lower patient treatment costs by 72%.

Key Statistics on Physical Therapy

Physical Therapy Statistics – infographic

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Interesting Statistics about Physical Therapy

Let’s start by looking at the popularity of the practice, by exploring some general facts and statistics about physical therapy:

1. There are currently 233,350 physical therapists registered in the US.

Do you live in California, New York or Texas? You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to physical therapists, as these states have more than any other!

There are currently 233,350 physical therapists registered in the US

2. The average physical therapy clinic sees between 101 and 200 patients each week.

3. 38,800 physical therapy clinics currently operate in the US.

If we assume that each one sees an average of 150 patients each week, that equates to over 300 million therapy sessions each year!

4. In 2019, the physical therapy industry in the US was valued at $33 billion.

Estimates suggest that this value will grow to over $45 billion by 2023.

in 2019, the physical therapy industry in the us was valued at $33 billion

5. 46% of patients undergoing physical therapy are looking for relief from some form of spine pain.

There’s no denying it, back pain is a huge issue in the US. In fact, 80% of Americans will experience back pain at some point in their lives.

6. Physical therapists are most likely to work in a private clinic, hospital or nursing home.

The industries that employ the most physical therapists are broken down as follows:

  • 33% Private Outpatient Clinics/Offices
  • 28% Hospitals (State, Local and Private)
  • 11% Home Health Care Services
  • 7% Nursing and Residential Care Facilities
  • 5% Offices of Physicians

33% of physical therapists work in a private outpatient clinic

7. 70% of patients think they need a referral to see a physical therapist, however a referral is not required.

You can choose to see a physical therapist independently without being referred by your physician.

Some states do have restrictions about exactly what services a physical therapist can provide without a referral. You can check the restrictions in your state on the American Physical Therapy Association website.

8. More than half of consumers are not aware that physical therapy must be performed by a licensed professional.

9. On average, patients see a physical therapist for between six and 12 sessions.

However Mary Ann Wilmarth, DPT, Chief of Physical Therapy at Harvard University Health Services, says just one or two sessions “can get people going in the right way”.

10. There are 1,600,606 physical therapists practicing worldwide.

It’s no surprise that the number is so high, when you consider that the latest statistics show at least 10% of the world’s population is living with chronic pain.

Physical Therapy Employment Statistics

Wondering about the job outlook for a physical therapist? Explore the most interesting facts about the profession:

1. 68% of physical therapists are female.

Interestingly, research published in the Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Journal found that despite it being a female-dominated industry, male physical therapists had higher aspirations.

919 physical therapy students were surveyed for the study. Men were much more likely than female students to expect to own their own practice, become a manager or have a higher income in the first year of employment.

Did you know?

Physical therapy started life as a female only profession!

The first professional association was formed in 1921 and was known as the ‘American Women’s Physical Therapeutic Association’. It included just 274 members.

2. The average physical therapist earns $89,440.

Though different sources report slightly different figures, all seem to agree on the fact that male physical therapists earn more than their female counterparts.

The average physical therapist earns $89,440

3. Employment of physical therapists is expected to grow 18% by 2029.

Much faster than many other professions. There are a number of reasons for this growth, including aging baby boomers and the increase in mobility issues stemming from health problems such as diabetes and obesity.

4. The average age of a physical therapist is 41.

5. Physical therapist was once named one of the Top 10 Happiest Jobs!

A number of reasons were given, including the social nature of the role, positive outcomes for patients and healthy rates of pay.

FUN FACT ABOUT PHYSICAL THERAPY:

According to research published by the dating app Tinder, users swipe right on women who are physical therapists more than any other profession!

Physical Therapy Outcome Statistics

There are many health benefits to physical therapy that you need to know. Some of the below statistics about patient outcomes might surprise you!

1. 41% of patients looking for a drug-free pain relief option, found physical therapy to be the most effective alternative treatment.

Overall, 78% of those surveyed said they preferred drug-free approaches compared to pain medication.

68% also described physical therapy as very safe, much safer (in their opinion) than pain-relief drugs (23%). Chiropractic care was another therapy highly rated in the survey.

2. Physical therapy can lower patient treatment costs by 72%.

Low back pain sufferers were the focus of a study published in the Health Services Research journal.

Patients who were referred to a physical therapist for their back pain, were compared with those who had an advanced imaging referral (MRI).

Using a physical therapist as a first port of call, resulted in 72% lower treatment costs in the first year compared to MRI patients.

Physical therapy can lower patient treatment costs by 72%

They were also less likely to receive surgery, pain injections and made fewer trips to the emergency room within a year.

Want to save even more money?

A study has shown that patients that use a TENS unit on a long term basis, can reduce their physical therapy costs by up to 69%!

3. Seeing a physical therapist within 90 days of the first onset of low back pain, significantly reduces the likelihood of a patient taking pain medication.

All the research points in the same direction, physical therapy is highly effective for treating low back pain.

4. Physical therapy can improve the symptoms of vertigo.

Though you might think of physical therapists just treating musculoskeletal issues, it actually has many other benefits.

Four studies and 304 articles were reviewed to understand if it should be recommended as a treatment for vertigo.

Physical therapy (specifically exercise-based vestibular rehabilitation), helped relieve the chronic dizziness that plagues those with the condition.

5. Routine physical therapy is safe for critically ill patients.

Physical therapy is a great way to help critically ill patients stay active while in intensive care.

However medical professionals wanted to understand if the treatment was safe.

5,267 physical therapy sessions were reviewed, with only 0.6% resulting in a physiological abnormality, the most common being arrhythmia.

Similarly to chiropractic care, it has a good safety record when compared to other back pain treatments such as steroids, pain medication and surgery.

References

  1. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2019). Physical Therapists Industry in the US - Market Research Report [Online]. Available from: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291123.htm [Accessed 9 February 2021].
  2. Salazar, R. E. (2019). 2019 Survey Results: Outpatient PT & OT Clinicians & Clinic Owners [Online]. Available from: https://rehabupracticesolutions.com/2019-survey/ [Accessed 20 February 2021].
  3. LaRosa, J. (2019). U.S. Physical Therapy Clinics Constitute a Growing $34 Billion Industry [Online]. Available from: https://blog.marketresearch.com/u.s.-physical-therapy-clinics-constitute-a-growing-34-billion-industry [Accessed 19 February 2021].
  4. IBIS World (2020). Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2019, 29-1123 Physical Therapists [Online]. Available from: https://www.ibisworld.com/united-states/market-research-reports/physical-therapists-industry/ [Accessed 19 February 2021].
  5. Kalispell, M. (2020). Professional Therapy Associates Releases Spine Pain Statistics Supporting New APTA Low Back Pain Survey Findings [Online]. Available from: http://jotopr.com/professional-therapy-associates-releases-spine-pain-statistics-supporting-new-apta-low-back-pain-survey-findings/# [Accessed 19 February 2021].
  6. The American Academy of Physical Therapy (2021). Physical Therapy Job Outlook [Online]. Available from: http://www.aaptnet.org/facts-about-the-industry.html# [Accessed 19 February 2021].
  7. Choose PT (2021). 7 Myths About Physical Therapy [Online]. Available from: https://www.choosept.com/resources/detail/7-myths-about-physical-therapy [Accessed 20 February 2021].
  8. Choose PT (see footnote 7)
  9. McMillen, M. (2021). Is It Time for Physical Therapy? [Online]. Available from: https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/physical-therapy-for-active-adults#1 [Accessed 20 February 2021].
  10. World Confederation for Physical Therapy (2019). A Report About the Global Physical Therapy Profession [Online]. Available from: http://www.aefi.net/Portals/1/WCPT/2019-GlobalReport.pdf [Accessed 20 February 2021].
  11. Data USA (2021). Physical Therapists [Online]. Available from: https://datausa.io/profile/soc/physical-therapists [Accessed 19 February 2021].
  12. APTA (2021). 100 Milestones of Physical Therapy [Online]. Available from: https://centennial.apta.org/home/timeline/ [Accessed 19 February 2021].
  13. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2020). Occupational Outlook Handbook - Physical Therapists [Online]. Available from: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physical-therapists.htm [Accessed 19 February 2021].
  14. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (see footnote 13)
  15. Data USA (see footnote 11)
  16. Forbes (2011). The Ten Happiest Jobs [Online]. Available from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2011/09/12/the-ten-happiest-jobs/ [Accessed 19 February 2021].
  17. Zanger, D. (2016). Pilots and physical therapists top most 'right-swiped' jobs list on Tinder [Online]. Available from: https://www.thedrum.com/news/2016/02/25/pilots-and-physical-therapists-top-most-right-swiped-jobs-list-tinder [Accessed 19 February 2021].
  18. Gallup, Inc (2021). Americans Prefer Drug-Free Pain Management Over Opioids [Online]. Available from: https://news.gallup.com/reports/218495/s.aspx?g_source=link_wwwv7&g_campaign=item_217676&g_medium=copy [Accessed 20 February 2021].
  19. MedRisk (2021). Statistics Spotlight: Physical Therapy Reduces Costs [Online]. Available from: https://www.medrisknet.com/statistics-spotlight-physical-therapy-reduces-costs/ [Accessed 19 February 2021].
  20. Gellhorn, A., Chan, L., Martin, B. and Friedly, J. (2013). Management Patterns in Acute Low Back Pain: the Role of Physical Therapy [Online]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3062937/ [Accessed 20 February 2021].
  21. Kundakci, B., Sultana, A., Taylor, A. J. and Alsherhri, M. A. (2018). The effectiveness of exercise-based vestibular rehabilitation in adult patients with chronic dizziness: A systematic review [Online]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5954334/ [Accessed 19 February 2021].
  22. Sricharoenchai, T. et al (2014). Safety of physical therapy interventions in critically ill patients: a single-center prospective evaluation of 1110 intensive care unit admissions [Online]. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24508202/ [Accessed 20 February 2021].