What Do Physical Therapy Assistants (PTAs) Do?

With the sudden burgeoning of wellness and healthcare facilities, professionals from the medical field have also come in demand. Because more individuals are now after becoming fit and want to improve their quality of life and longevity, services from these facilities and professionals have been gaining patrons as well.

Among them are physical therapists and physical therapy assistants, who help individuals in rehabilitation and correction of various disabilities and impairments concerning movement and mobility. Aside from these, physical therapy practitioners also promote and execute tests, diagnoses and evaluations, as well as physical interventions to be able to improve the functional and physical abilities of a person that underwent certain debilities and injuries.

Physical therapy assistants work hand in hand with physical therapists. They work along with therapists during sessions in assisting patients on much less technical concerns. Here are some of the activities that physical therapy assistants do;-

  • They perform various therapeutic massages to patients if applicable, administer ultrasound, help therapists during execution of particular physical exercises and apply cold, hold or electrical stimuli to patients if necessary.
  • They also help prepare therapy equipment and also organize and make sure that the area is clean. They often work under a therapist and are mostly part of a team.
  • Their roles are mainly defined by their supervisor depending on the assistance that he or she might need. Since therapists are often busy with supervising and directing, physical therapy assistants are the ones who often check and update records of their patients.
  • They also implement the modifications or interventions needed to be done and create progress reports so that the therapist can customize treatments per patient accordingly.

Since a physical therapist could have various or have a specific specialty, a physical therapy assistant is often trained to help people of all ages, from newborn babies to geriatric patients, especially those who have congenital or degenerative physical and health-related concerns giving their care to those who have limited capability to move and do daily functional chores and activities.

In the United States, a therapist can specialize from any of the eight main specialization including:-

  • Cardiovascular and pulmonary rehabilitation
  • Orthopedic therapy
  • Pediatric physical therapy
  • Geriatric physical therapy
  • Neurological physical therapy
  • Clinical electrophysiology
  • Integumentary physical therapy
  • Women’s health therapy and so an assistant can become part of any of these teams.

Physical therapy assistants carry out tasks assigned to them by the therapist. Except for major medical interventions, which the therapists are only allowed to execute, assistants apply different treatment procedures and techniques to improve patients’ mobility, restore their functional abilities, reduce the pain they are experiencing and apply necessary interventions to avoid further disability.

They also work with physical therapists in aiding individuals to avoid complete loss of movement and mobility by enhancing and developing their fitness, as well as the wellness of the patients by using methods to improve health and promote a much active lifestyle.

Aside from health care facilities such as hospitals and medical clinics, physical therapy assistants can also work on various settings such as sports, fitness and wellness facilities, schools, home health organizations, nursing homes, work settings, and even through private practice.

Before becoming a physical therapy assistant, an aspirant must complete first a certificate or an associate program. He must at least have a high school diploma or should have passed the GED before being able to apply.

Usually, schools would require a pre-entry examination before you can qualify to apply in the program. The examination would evaluate your skills in English, reading, Mathematics and Science. After which, other necessary requirements are asked such as drug and alcohol screenings, physical examinations, tests in first aid knowledge, among others before you become a student in their certificate or associate program.

Physical therapy assistants salary vary from state to state and from the facility they are working under.

The Responsibility Of Being A Physical Therapy Assistant

We all must have heard of the term physical therapy assistant without paying much attention to it or wondering what the job involves. Most of us are more accustomed to physical therapy. Physical therapy is a specialized kind of therapy provided to those who are suffering from such ailments that cannot be cured by medicine alone.

The concept of physical therapy is not very new, though it is not very old either. In the very early days patients used to give up hope when medicines failed them but with the discovery and progress of physical therapy, every patient has a new hope of recovery.

Basically physical therapy is practiced by a trained and licensed physical therapist, one who after proper training and completion in accredited therapy schools of his course runs his own clinic and treats patients. A physical therapy assistant on the other hand is a health care professional who works directly under a physical therapist.

The job of a physical therapy assistant is varied and it involves a lot of training as well. The assistant has to work and learn from the therapist at the same time. Just like all patients are not the same, the treatment given to each and every patient is varied and unique. It is therefore of outmost importance that the assistant has to be extremely good at his/her job.

Helping the therapist means that the assistant has to help in treatments like rehabilitation, for example cardiac and neurological rehabilitation. Rehabilitation is one of the major treatments provided by a therapist and therefore an assistant can look forward to a lot of work in that area.

Apart from rehabilitation, other treatments like geriatrics, orthopedics and gynecology are also a part of physical therapy and an assistant has to have the desired knowledge to deal with such ailments. Along with such serious issues, the assistant also has to provide patients with other services like sports medicine, all over wellness and wound care.

The task of the assistant does not end there however. There are many other services that the assistant has to master in like taking care of patients and making sure that they are provided with everything they need during the therapy.

Physical therapy assistant salaries are good but the job comes with a lot of responsibilities.

Valuable feedback is also to be collected by the assistant and provided to the therapist so that the therapist is well aware of the improvement of his patients or look into any problems that they might be facing due to the therapy. The job of a physical therapy assistant is therefore of extreme importance and of high value.