Cardiopulmonary physical therapy is a sub-specialty within the field of physical therapy. Clinicians working in this area of physical therapy focus on optimizing physical function for those with cardiopulmonary disease.
Added knowledge may be required to work in this practice environment.
Below we examine the typical patient diagnoses, employment environment, and continuing education options available for therapists interested in pursuing a career working with cardiopulmonary patients.
In the inpatient setting, patients are likely referred to physical therapy for initial activity following physician clearance. Therapists working with these patients will have closely monitor a patient's vitals, especially if it soon after a major cardiac event.
Depending on the hospital, therapists may be expected to follow specific cardiac pathway protocols. Therapists are also heavily involved in patient discharge planning to ensure the patient has everything needed after leaving the hospital.
In the outpatient setting, therapists work with patients following an acute cardiac event. Therapists work with the patient to incorporate long-term lifestyle changes including exercise steps to reduce risk factors.
A great and cost effective way to begin is through text books and articles. Text books are a great resource and can help determine if you are interested in finding a physical therapy continuing education course.
The Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Section of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) offers a membership to APTA members.
Members of this section have exclusive access to "members only" content including articles, journals, and newsletters.
Clinicians are required to meet minimum eligibility requirements to become a cardiopulmonary specialist.
These include a set amount of clinical experience working with cardiopulmonary patients, an application to take the board exam, and a passing score on the board exam.
Be sure to check out the APTA website for updated eligibility requirements.