A physical therapy assistant works with a physical therapist to provide treatments and procedures for patients in need of physical therapy; those patients include people of all ages who have a wide variety of medical problems or conditions that limit their movement and ability to carry out common daily activities.
The physical therapy assistant observes and records patient progress throughout treatment, as well as monitors and records the operation of therapeutic equipment. The physical therapy assistant transports patients to and from areas used for treatment, lifts or transfers them in accordance with positioning requirements, and ensures the patients are secured into or onto the therapeutic equipment. The assistant fits patients for braces, prostheses, and supportive devices such as crutches, and trains patients in the appropriate and safe use of that equipment.
A physical therapy assistant must be dependable and able to work as part of a team to promote the patients' healing process. A good candidate for the job will have good manual dexterity and physical strength, and they will also possess excellent communication skills. A working knowledge of medical problems and health conditions that lead to a need for physical therapy is necessary. An assistant works under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist in a variety of health care settings (such as hospitals, nursing homes, and outpatient facilities) and private locations (such as schools and sports facilities). Education requirements include an associate's degree in an accredited physical therapy assistant program. Those who finish the program must pass a national examination for licensing or certification; however, two states do not require licensing for physical therapy assistants.
Physical Therapist Assistant Tasks
- Observe and document the progress of treatment.
- Assist physical therapists in providing physical therapy treatments and procedures.
- Monitor operation of equipment and record use of equipment.
- Fit and train patients for orthopedic braces, prostheses, and supportive devices, such as crutches.
- Transport patients to and from treatment areas, lift and transfer them according to positioning requirements, secure into or onto therapy equipment.