Career Attributes

  • $41,603
  • 88,300
  • 3.2
  • 31.1%
  • Physical And Health Education Teaching
More Attributes

What is a Physical Therapist Assistant?

A Physical Therapist Assistant is a specialized type of Physical Therapist. Also known as: Certified Physical Therapist Assistant, Licensed Physical Therapist Assistant, Physical Therapy Assistant.

A physical therapist assistant (PTA) is someone who performs components of physical therapy procedures and related tasks, as directed by a supervising physical therapist. They help patients/clients who have movement difficulties due to injury or disease. Physical therapist assistants do this by assisting the physical therapist with therapies designed to improve the patient's mobility, relieve their pain, prevent or limit permanent physical disability, and promote overall fitness and well-being. Patients may include accident victims, as well as individuals with short- and long-term conditions (such as low back pain, fractures, head injuries, arthritis, heart disease, and cerebral palsy).

What does a Physical Therapist Assistant do?

A physical therapist assistant (PTA) is someone who performs components of physical therapy procedures and related tasks, as directed by a supervising physical therapist.

A physical therapist assistant works as part of a team to provide physical therapy services under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist. Physical therapist assistants treat individuals of all ages, from newborns to the very oldest, who have movement difficulties due to injury or disease that limit their abilities to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives. Care provided by an assistant may include teaching patients/clients exercise for mobility, strength and coordination, training for activities such as walking with crutches, canes, or walkers, massage, and the use of physical agents and electrotherapy such as ultrasound and electrical stimulation.

The physical therapist is responsible for the services provided by the assistant. Physical therapists examine each individual and develop a plan using treatment therapies to promote the ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability. They also work with individuals to prevent the loss of mobility before it occurs by developing fitness- and wellness-oriented programs for healthier and more active lifestyles. The physical therapist may choose to utilize a physical therapist assistant in the provision of certain components of the physical therapy treatment. The physical therapist, assistant, and the patient/client then work side-by-side to make sure that the goals of the plan or care are met.

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What is the workplace of a Physical Therapist Assistant like?

Physical therapist assistants work in a variety of settings including outpatient physical therapy clinics, skilled nursing facilities, hospitals, rehabilitation centres, home health agencies, schools, and sports and fitness facilities. Most assistants work Monday through Friday, although work hours may vary, depending on the facility and employment status. For example, most hospitals and skilled nursing facilities provide reduced coverage on weekends and many outpatient physical therapy offices and clinics have evening and weekend hours to accommodate patients' schedules.

This job can be physically demanding because physical therapist assistants often have to walk, stoop, kneel, crouch, lift, and stand for long periods of time. In addition, they may be required to move heavy equipment and lift patients or help them to turn, stand, or walk.

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Further Reading

  • About Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) Careers www.apta.org

    In many practice settings, physical therapists rely on the PTA to assure that all patients/clients have access to physical therapy services.

  • The Role of a Physical Therapy Aide www.physicaltherapyaide.org

    While a physical therapy aide is not a licensed practitioner, they are still a crucial part of a physical therapy team or office and help physical therapists deliver quality care to their patients.

  • The Story of a PTA (Interview) www.webpt.com

    We thought we’d give you an inside look into the life and times of a fantastic PTA Daniel Timm of ATI Physical Therapy in Pewaukee, Wisconsin.

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Career Attributes

  • $41,603
  • 88,300
  • 3.2
  • 31.1%
  • Physical And Health Education Teaching
More Attributes