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Posted By: Amanda | Posted In: Physical Therapist | June 30, 2022
physical therapist assistant

Physical therapy assistant is a  niche field. Here you will learn more about what physical therapist assistants do.

Five to 10 percent of Americans seek out medically required physical therapy each year. It’s important to gain an educated perspective on what they do.

Physical therapy assistants can be found in hospitals, clinics, and private offices all around the country. As a physical therapy assistant, you are responsible for assisting a licensed therapist. You will help provide exercises and treatments to patients to get them physically ready for their return to daily life. 

What does a physical therapy assistant do on a daily basis?

Physical therapy assistants are trained medical professionals that work as part of a team to help patients regain physical mobility. This is done by doing exercises under the supervision of a physical therapist. There are many roles that an assistant can assume while they work, and we’ll cover a few of them below.

Physical therapy assistants help their patients with exercises, massages, and other treatments. They also educate people about how to stay active and reduce pain.

The assistants may also help patients manage their medical conditions. For example, they can teach them how to use equipment like crutches or splints. They also help patients understand what kind of exercise is appropriate for their condition and how often it should be done.

Physical therapy assistants work closely with physical therapists and other healthcare professionals. They ensure that individualized treatment plans are effective and meet the needs of each patient. The assistants may also help doctors or nurses during procedures such as injections or X-rays.

Physical therapy assistants often work in hospitals or clinics. They can also find jobs in private practices or nursing homes where they provide care for older adults. These adults tend to have mobility problems due to arthritis or other conditions.

What are the education requirements for a physical therapy assistant?

The education requirements for a physical therapy assistant vary by state. In many states, you’ll need to complete an associate degree program in physical therapy. Many of these programs lead to certification as a licensed physical therapist assistant. 

Once you have your certification there will be certain requirements for continuing education. There will also be requirements for licensure renewal that you’ll need to follow throughout your career as a therapist.

The curriculum will include:

  • Basic anatomy and physiology
  • Medical terminology
  • CPR/first aid
  • Assisting with treatments and procedures
  • Patient communication

Are there other certifications needed for physical therapy assistants?

In short, yes!

There are a few different certifications that physical therapy assistants can earn. One of the most common is the PTA certification. Physical therapy assistants need to be certified in order to work in clinical settings and with patients.

PTAs can also achieve certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). CPR certification is required by many employers, so this is definitely something you should consider. 

In some states, physical therapy assistants must be certified as well as licensed. Other states only require one.

In addition to being licensed and certified, many PTAs work in facilities that require additional training specific to that facility’s needs. If you work at a sports medicine clinic, you may need additional certification in those areas.

Physical therapist assistant degree program

An associates degree program will take about two years to complete and will typically result in an A.S. or A.A.S. degree. This type of schooling is available at community colleges and technical schools. It is usually much less expensive than a four-year education.

First you’ll obtain your education and pass your certification exam. Then you’ll get your license. The requirements vary by state. You’ll need to check with your state’s licensing department directly if you’re considering moving states after graduation

Where do physical therapy assistants work?

Physical therapy assistants work in a variety of settings, including hospitals and clinics. In the hospital setting, they may help with treatment and rehabilitation for patients who have suffered from an injury or surgery. They also often help physical therapists to provide treatment and care to patients. These patients may have to remain in bed or need assistance with daily activities.

In the clinic setting, physical therapy assistants are usually responsible for performing simple hands-on tasks. For example, they may hold joints in place while the therapist manipulates them. Or they may assist clients in moving their limbs through specific ranges of motion.

Physical therapy assistants can also work as case managers or administrators. Case managers help coordinate patient care by managing the flow of patients through their facilities’ systems. They ensure that they receive appropriate treatments while there. 

Case administrators deal with issues such as billing and insurance claims processing. They also handle other administrative tasks like filing paperwork related to employment or licensing requirements.

What is the salary of a physical therapy assistant?

Physical therapy assistants train to help physical therapists with the day-to-day tasks. This assistance allows the PTs to focus on their patients.

Physical therapy assistants typically work in hospitals, outpatient clinics, and private practice offices. They perform a variety of tasks such as preparing equipment and materials. The PTAs also take measurements of patients’ bodies and administer treatment. 

Most employers require applicants to have taken courses in anatomy, physiology, mechanics of human movement, and medical terminology.

The median salary for physical therapy assistants was $49,180 as of 2020. 

Job prospects appear to be good through 2022 due to increases in demand for physical therapy services. The field should grow by 32% over the next 8 years according to BLS.gov

Next steps for becoming a physical therapy assistant

Do you want to become a certified physical therapy assistant? There are still some occupations and careers to explore. Most assistive jobs require you to have experience and/or a certification related to the desired specialty. For example, if you want to become a PTA specializing in geriatrics or pediatrics, you will need relevant work experience. If you want to work as a public school physical therapy assistant, you may need state certification as well.

Contact us at SABER College to find out more information about our Physical Therapist Assistant degree program.