Physical Therapy Assistant
High School Diploma or Equivalent
Associate Degree from 2-year college or technical training program. Click here for more information
National Physical Therapist Exam Degree
$35K - $65K Annually
High Job Demand
Physical Therapist Assistants (PTAs) work with Physical Therapists to help patients that have been injured or have lost mobility and flexibility due to illness. These patients are often in pain and/or have become disabled due to arthritis, heart disease, stroke, lower back pain or some other debilitating health issue. Instead of using drugs or having invasive surgery, physical therapy can often be used to help patients recover from serious health problems.
Quite often PTAs will be asked to help patients learn how to use medical equipment, such as crutches, to assist them. They will set up equipment for patients to use, administer electrical stimulation, and teach proper exercise techniques. Because physical therapy is usually a long-term process, PTAs need to convey patience and perseverance to patients to see results. To record results, they will also take accurate notes on each session to measure improvements.
- Administer active or passive manual therapeutic exercises, therapeutic massage, aquatic physical therapy, or heat, light, sound, or electrical modality treatments, such as ultrasound.
- Instruct, motivate, safeguard and assist patients as they practice exercises or functional activities.
- Observe patients during treatments to compile and evaluate data on their responses and progress and provide results to physical therapist in person or through progress notes.
- Confer with physical therapy staff or others to discuss and evaluate patient information for planning, modifying or coordinating treatment.
- Fit patients for orthopedic braces, protheses or supportive devises such as crutches.
- Administer traction to relieve neck or back pain, using intermittent or static traction equipment.
- Measure patient’s range-of-joint motion, body parts or vital signs to determine effects of treatments or for patient evaluations
- Assist patients to dress, undress or put on and remove supportive devises such as braces, splints or slings.
- Prepare treatment areas and electrotherapy equipment for use by physiotherapists.
- Clean work area and check and store equipment after treatment.
Skills and Abilities Needed to Perform Job:
- Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat injuries, diseases and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions and preventive health-care measures.
- Knowledge of principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling guidance.
- Knowledge of psychology relative to human behavior and performance, individual differences in ability, personality and interests; learning and motivation, psychological research methods and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
- Knowledge and use of medical software (BioEx Systems Exercise Pro, Rehab Documentation Company ReDoc Suite, etc.)
- Knowledge and use of Microsoft software programs (Excel, Word and Office)
- Oral Comprehension – Ability to listen to and understand information presented through spoken words.
- Oral Expression – Ability to communicate information in speaking so that others will understand.
- Written Comprehension – Ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
- Problem Sensitivity – Ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong.
- Static Strength and Trunk Strength – Ability to exert maximum muscle force to lift, push, pull or carry objects; ability to use abdominal and lower back muscles to support parts of the body repeatedly over time without fatiguing.
Desired Work Style Attributes:
- Concern for Others – Sensitive to needs of others
- Integrity – Honest and ethical
- Dependability – Reliable and responsible
- Cooperation – Pleasant with others
- Attention to details