Physical Therapist

Martin Sandstrom

Tell us about your work--what do you do? I treat physically challenged people using physical therapy in combination with horseback riding . What skills are needed? Facilitation techniques for neuromuscular disabilities and working familiarity with horses . What was your major? Physical Therapy How did you get started in your career? I became interested in physical therapy during college through my first major, which was physical education . What experience do you need in this job? You need to have an undergraduate degree in physical therapy. Prior riding instruction is required and all instructors must become certified by NARHA : The North American Riding for the Handicapped Association within one year of employment. Most places of employment have at least three program objectives: -To provide therapeutic riding instruction for the handicapped under professional counsel at an approved facility. -To ascertain and record therapeutic aspects and to compile case histories. -To create a leisure opportunity for persons with disabilities whereby they learn life skills. Most importantly, you need to genuinely care about people and like horses. Describe your "typical" workday: I see individual clients for 30-minute sessions. What is the hardest aspect of your job? Learning how to adapt physical therapy to the needs of challenged people while using the horses. What is the most rewarding aspect of your job? The satisfaction comes from seeing my clients improve their physical abilities and derive enjoyment from this activity. What are your suggestions for someone considering this field? I work for Equitherapy in Morton Grove, Illinois, one of the few organizations in the country that specializes in using horses as part of therapy. I suggest that students try to volunteer in a program similar to this one so that you can be exposed to novel approaches for helping physically challenged people. I also recommend that students study science and math in school. My final piece of advice may sound simple, but it's often seems overlooked in career planning: Do what you like best!
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