Physical Therapy Experience

Please describe a specific experience with a patient during your duties as a volunteer or aide in a physical therapy practice setting that made a notable impression on you and affirmed your desire to pursue a career in this field. (850 words)

Although I participated in a multitude of volunteer opportunities in different practice settings, it was a clinical course at (University) that gave me the affirm on my desire to career in this field. It was my last semester before I obtained my undergraduate degree in kinesiology. Start of the semester with excitement and thrill waiting to know what the course has to offer. But It wasn’t clear enough that I would be working with patients with disabilities and real life trouble in their abilities. I became nervous due to the fact that the patient’s therapy and rehabilitation was in my hands for the next couple of months. The course was an aquatic therapy. The clients at the center receive adapted therapeutic exercise services and that these services are for the most part “post-PT”, meaning that they are in a different phase of their rehabilitation.

Long Story short. My client was diagnosed with TBI traumatic brain injury and had different type of diseases such as stroke due to his TBI. I work with inside and outside the pool. He couldn’t talk or make much movements as he had hemiparesis. Our time was so valuable and gave me a sense of gratification and personal satisfaction. At the end of the semester, when we had to say our goodbyes he started crying as I was wishing him good luck. He would just listen and make facial expressions. The caretaker knew he would want me to go to his birthday that was coming up so I went. This feeling was indispensable and invaluable.



Throughout my experiences of volunteering and aiding in physical therapy settings, there were numerous life-changing moments I experienced that compelled me to pursue a career in this field. But the one that stood out for me was during my undergraduate work. I had the privilege of participating in an aquatic therapy course, which provided me with the most profound clinical experience. The rehabilitation facility offered services to a wide variety of patients with all types of disabilities, weaknesses, or impairments; most patients were in different phases of their rehabilitation, which provided me with an all-encompassing hands-on experiences. Initially, I was nervous to learn that I was assigned to a long-term patient of the clinic who suffered injuries from a motorcycle accident, which resulted in traumatic brain injury and stroke. The patient could not speak, and had limited mobility because he had hemiparesis. Although I was nervous to work with a patient whose recovery was in my hands for the rest of the semester, I soon discovered the beauty of helping someone through their rehabilitation process.

I learned that the patient had a very negative attitude towards his road to recovery. During our initial therapy session, I noticed that he seemed very upset and discouraged; it seemed as though physical therapy was a burden rather than an opportunity to progress towards his goals. Nevertheless, once I got to know him better, I was able to understand what sparked some hope in his eyes–humor. Humor was the key to what made him like me, and even trust me. Before we knew it, we had a means of communication with each other, which included facial expressions and various hand gestures. I was able to read his emotions, and could tell when he was happy, sad, or shocked. Humor bridged the gap between our inability to communicate, and therefore, after that I started to incorporate jokes into his exercise routine, he seemed much more willing to come to his therapy sessions. Over time, he made notable progress and I was impressed by the change in his attitude over the course of our sessions. At this juncture, I no longer went to the clinic as a course requirement, but rather, I enjoyed the opportunity to make a difference in his life. I felt I had accomplished something bigger than myself, and felt a sense of satisfaction which was unique and indescribable.

Unfortunately, our experience had to come to an end, and we had to stay our goodbyes. The patient had tears in his eyes as he wept with sadness. That was the moment I realized I wanted to continue in this line of work. It was at that moment that it dawned on me and I realized that this is who I want to be; this is the kind of difference I want to make in people’s lives. This was the most rewarding experience which affirmed my desire to choose a career in physical therapy in hopes to facilitate similar pivotal moments for patients who struggle to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Working with this patient helped open my eyes to the reality of the world around me, which made me feel like I was a better person at the end of it all. For once in my life, I was able to put a genuine smile on another person’s face and give them hope for a better tomorrow. I finally understood my purpose in life, and felt that I had the power and means to leave a positive and lasting impact on someone’s life. After all, I learned that I needed to pursue my degree in Physical Therapy in order to be able to improve the quality of life for people like him.


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