Orthopedic Physical Therapist Job Description, Duties, and Responsibilities

By | October 26, 2023
Orthopedic Physical Therapist Job Description
Orthopedic physical therapists perform evaluation on patients to determine the best treatment plan.

This post provides detailed information on the orthopedic physical therapist job description, including the key duties, tasks, and responsibilities they commonly perform.

It also highlights the major requirements you may be expected to fulfill to be hired for the orthopedic physical therapist role by most employers/recruiters.

What Does an Orthopedic Physical Therapist Do?

Orthopedic physical therapists are specialists and experts who provide treatment or rehabilitation to patients with injuries affecting the orthopedic system, which covers the muscles, joints, bones, ligaments, and tendons.

Their job description entails helping patients to treat orthopedic conditions that result in pain, lower range of motion, reduced strength, or swelling.

These conditions may include sprains, tendonitis, strains, arthritis, muscle tears, ligament tears, muscle/tendon/ joint inflammations, joint stiffness, post fracture injury, post arthroscopic and total joint replacement surgeries, joint pain, ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) reconstruction, and rotator cuff repair.

They conduct examination on patients who have sustained injuries or have certain diseases or congenital conditions that cause pain or/and physical dysfunction in any area of the body.

They then create a treatment plan that includes manipulation and exercises to lower pain or completely heal the injury and improve the patient’s ability to function optimally.

The orthopedic physical therapist role also involves periodically documenting a patient’s progress during the course of treatment, reviewing, and making changes to treatment plan when necessary.

The work of a physical therapist can be physically exhausting as it usually involves standing for long periods as well as moving or lifting patients.

At the entry-level position, the work description of an orthopedic physical therapist may involve reporting to the clinical supervisor, physical therapy, and ensuring effective care services, both direct and indirect, to patients.

As a P.T. (physical therapist), you should expect to work with patients of various ages (pediatric, adolescent, adult, and geriatric) and of different backgrounds (socioeconomic and cultural).

Orthopedic physical therapists may also be responsible for supervising the duties of support staff such as rehabilitation aides, registered physical therapist assistants, and students taking the physical therapy and physical therapy assistant programs.

To grow in this career, individuals are required to be actively involved in both departmental and organizational programs such as staff and inservice development activities, clinical education programs, and performance enhancement programs.

Orthopedic Physical Therapist Job Description Example/Template

Orthopedic physical therapists perform various functions to help patients recover from pains resulting from injuries to their orthopedic system.

The following job description example highlights the duties, tasks, and responsibilities commonly performed by most orthopedic physical therapists:

  • Perform evaluation based on the need of each patient, specific program guideline, and recommendation from physicians and provide treatment to patients with various musculoskeletal, motor, and mobility disorders
  • Develop and provide early intervention programs to help clients prevent orthopedic issues
  • Carry out regular communication with case management, referrals, scheduling staff, and care coordination units
  • Discuss evaluation result, plan for treatment, and goals with patients and/or their parents or caregivers
  • Design home program activities for patients leaving for home to ensure continuation of treatment plan
  • Involve patients in treatment sessions
  • Carry out accurate and timely documentation of all necessary records following departmental standard procedures, and ensuring patients’ insurance requirements are complied with
  • Consult with allied healthcare providers, physicians, and other professional in the team on the best treat procedure for a patient
  • Take part in program planning and case conferencing meetings
  • Organize training programs and presentations when applicable for staff, patients, and caregivers or parents
  • Perform evaluation on patients referred for fall risk assessment, physical therapy treatment, and consultation
  • Relate with scheduling staff to keep schedule full; monitor and manage own schedule.

Requirements – knowledge, Skills, and Abilities – for Orthopedic Physical Therapist Role

If you are seeking the job of an orthopedic physical therapist and want to know what you need to have to qualify for the role, here are major requirements and qualifications most employers may expect you to meet:

  • Minimum 2 years physical therapy and orthopedic work experience in a suitable medical center
  • Experience working in a team comprising various healthcare professionals
  • At least 3 months of fulltime clinical affiliation with an approved acute care hospital
  • Ability to effectively evaluate each patient, analyze information, and determine if the case is within the job of a physical therapist or not
  • Profound knowledge of physical therapy practices and principles, as well as techniques for performing evaluation and treatment
  • Ability to make the right decision on the kind of intervention to be given to patients based on information from diagnoses and prognoses, as well as the patient’s goal
  • Strong ability to observe signs of distress in patients
  • Strong ability to communicate effectively both orally and in writing, and to communicate online with patients, caregivers/parents, professional colleagues, etc.
  • Ability to work effectively with word processing software tools and to use computers in scheduling appointments and accessing electronic medical records of patients/clients
  • Strong time management, interpersonal, self-initiation, and problem solving skills
  • A physical therapy degree or certificate from a professional educational program dully accredited
  • Possess physical therapist license to practice in the state where the job is being sought
  • Possess current CPR (BLS) certification from the American Heart Association, or Advance Resuscitation Training , or Advanced Trauma Life Support, or Advanced Cardiac Life Support
  • Excellent customer service and interpersonal skills
  • Strong ability to apply evidence based research, professional literature, and continuing education materials to make the right decision on patient’s treatment plan.


If you are hiring for the orthopedic physical therapist position in your center or hospital, you can apply the sample job description provided in this post to create one for your organization.

You need to make a detailed description of the role in your center to attract the best qualified people to respond to your offer, and you can simply do that by utilizing the work description sample, consisting of major orthopedic physical therapist duties and responsibilities given in this article.

This post is also useful to individuals interested in the orthopedic physical therapist career as they will be able to learn a lot about the duties and responsibilities associated with the role.