Therapeutic assistants help people with physical injuries or illnesses to regain their range of movement and/or reduce pain. Therapeutic assistants work under licensed physical therapists (PTs) and follow plans created by the PT, which can include exercise, strength training, stretching and physical manipulation. These assistants may also work with older individuals who have loss motor function and people who have been in accidents. Therapeutic assistants instruct, motivate and assist patients and are essential components of the physical therapy process. Specific duties of therapeutic assistant may include administrating traction to a patient's neck or back, performing postural drainage, teaching deep breathing exercises and maintaining the treatment area. Clerical duties such as taking inventory of supplies and answering the telephone may be required as well.
Most therapeutic assistants have at least an associate's degree in an accredited physical therapy program; some states require this. Many therapeutic assistants also have a bachelor's degree in a related health or physical education field. They must have comprehensive knowledge of physical therapy procedures and policies. Therapeutic assistants must be effective communicators and able to work with their clients on a professional level to meet their specific needs. They must pay close attention to detail to observe their patients' progress during treatment, as well as be active listeners that have good time-management skills and the manual dexterity needed to move the patient's body and provide therapeutic exercise. Therapeutic assistants must work well with coworkers such as physical therapists, receptionists, doctors and nurses.
Therapeutic Assistant Tasks
Collect data on progress and adjust therapy to improve results.
Adjust tasks and interactions to suit individual clients.
Ensure communication is consistent across the care team.
Work with clients to improve skills and mobility and increase engagement.
Encourage learning from family members and caretakers to improve outcomes.