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Become A Physical Therapist Assistant

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Working As A Physical Therapist Assistant

  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Getting Information
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Performing General Physical Activities
  • Deal with People

  • $45,914

    Average Salary

What Does A Physical Therapist Assistant Do

Physical therapist assistants, sometimes called PTAs, and physical therapist aides work under the direction and supervision of physical therapists. They help patients who are recovering from injuries and illnesses regain movement and manage pain. Physical therapist assistants are involved in the direct care of patients. Physical therapist aides often do tasks that are indirectly related to patient care, such as cleaning and setting up the treatment area, moving patients, and performing clerical duties.

Duties

Physical therapist assistants typically do the following:

  • Observe patients before, during, and after therapy, noting patient status and reporting it to a physical therapist
  • Help patients do specific exercises as part of the plan of care
  • Treat patients using a variety of techniques, such as massage and stretching
  • Use devices and equipment, such as walkers, to help patients
  • Educate a patient and family members about what to do after treatment

Physical therapist aides typically do the following:

  • Clean treatment areas and set up therapy equipment
  • Wash linens
  • Help patients move to or from a therapy area
  • Do clerical tasks, such as answering phones and scheduling patients

Physical therapist assistants help physical therapists provide care to patients. Under the direction and supervision of physical therapists, they treat patients through exercise, massage, gait and balance training, and other therapeutic interventions. Physical therapist assistants record patients’ progress and report the results of each treatment to the physical therapist.

Physical therapist aides work under the direct supervision of a physical therapist or physical therapist assistant. They usually are responsible for keeping the treatment area clean and organized, and preparing for each patient's therapy. They also help patients who need assistance moving to or from a treatment area. In addition, aides do a variety of clerical tasks, such as ordering supplies, scheduling treatment sessions, and filling out insurance forms. The types of tasks that physical therapist aides are allowed to perform vary by state. Contact your state licensing board for more information.

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How To Become A Physical Therapist Assistant

Physical therapist assistants entering the profession need an associate’s degree from an accredited program. All states require physical therapist assistants to be licensed or certified. Physical therapist aides usually have a high school diploma and receive on-the-job training.

Education and Training

All states require physical therapist assistants to have an associate’s degree from an accredited physical therapist assistant program. There were more than 300 associate’s degree programs for physical therapist assistants accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education in 2015.

Programs typically last about 2 years. Classroom study includes courses in algebra, English, anatomy, physiology, and psychology. Assistants also gain hands-on experience during supervised clinical work. They may earn certifications in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and other first-aid skills.

Physical therapist aides typically have a high school diploma or the equivalent. They usually gain clinical experience through on-the-job training that can last from about a week to a month. Employers often prefer to hire applicants with computer skills.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

All states require physical therapist assistants to be licensed or certified. Licensure typically requires graduation from an accredited physical therapist assistant program and passing the National Physical Therapy Exam for physical therapist assistants administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy. Some states require that applicants pass additional state-administered exams, undergo a criminal background check, and be at least 18 years old. Physical therapist assistants also may need to take continuing education courses to keep their license. Check with your state board for specific licensing requirements.

Physical therapist aides are not required to be licensed.

Important Qualities

Compassion. Physical therapist assistants and aides should enjoy helping people. They work with people who are in pain, and they must have empathy to help their patients.

Detail oriented. Like other healthcare professionals, physical therapist assistants and aides should be organized and have a keen eye for detail. They must keep accurate records and follow written and verbal instructions carefully to ensure quality care.

Dexterity. Physical therapist assistants should be comfortable using their hands to provide manual therapy and therapeutic exercises. Aides should also be comfortable working with their hands to set up equipment and prepare treatment areas.

Interpersonal skills. Physical therapist assistants and aides spend much of their time interacting with clients, their families, and other healthcare practitioners; and therefore should be courteous and friendly.

Physical stamina. Physical therapist assistants and aides are frequently on their feet and moving as they work with their patients. They must often kneel, stoop, bend, and stand for long periods. They should enjoy physical activity.

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3,304 Physical Therapist Assistant jobs More

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Real Physical Therapist Assistant Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Physical Therapist/Assistant Director of Rehab Orthopaedic & Neurological Rehab., Inc. San Francisco, CA Jan 06, 2016 $98,089
Physical Therapist/Assistant Director of Rehab Orthopaedic & Neurological Rehabilitation, Inc. Berkeley, CA Jan 12, 2016 $89,783 -
$99,133
Physical Therapist/Assistant Director of Rehabil Hallmark Rehabilitation GP, LLC Hayward, CA Oct 14, 2014 $87,654
Physical Therapist/Assistant Director of Rehab Orthopaedic & Neurological Rehabilitation, Inc. Mountain View, CA Nov 01, 2016 $86,339 -
$108,253
Physical Therapist/Assistant Director of Rehab Orthopaedic & Neurological Rehabilitation, Inc. Mountain View, CA Jan 11, 2016 $86,339 -
$108,253
Physical Therapist/Assistant Director of Rehab Orthopaedic & Neurological Rehabilitation, Inc. Palo Alto, CA Jan 12, 2016 $86,339 -
$108,253
Physical Therapist/Assistant Director of Rehab Orthopaedic & Neurological Rehabilitation, Inc. Palo Alto, CA Dec 01, 2016 $86,339 -
$108,253
Physical Therapist Assistant River Health Care, LLC Mercedes, TX May 01, 2016 $75,000
Physical Therapist Assistant Interface Rehab Inc. Placentia, CA Sep 01, 2014 $72,628
Chronic Pain Therapist Assistant Moreno-Joseph Spine & Scoloiosis Safety Harbor, FL Sep 04, 2015 $66,477
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Top Skills for A Physical Therapist Assistant

PhysicalTherapyInterventionsGaitTrainingFacilityRehabPatientCarePTAUltrasoundManualTherapyTechniquesTreatmentPlansPhysicalTherapyServicesManualTherapeuticExercisesAcuteCareSettingElectricalStimulationPhysicalTherapyTreatmentsCVAOutpatientSettingROMOccupationalTherapyJointMobilizationBedMobility

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Top Physical Therapist Assistant Skills

  1. Physical Therapy Interventions
  2. Gait Training
  3. Facility
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Skilled nursing facility with a large pediatric wing of severely involved pediatric and young adult patients needing daily physical therapy interventions.
  • Focus on home safety, balance, fall prevention, gait training, strengthening, transfers.
  • Provide physical therapy for residents at a skilled nursing facility.
  • Assist clients with therapeutic exercises and rehabilitation methods both in and out of water.
  • included providing physical therapy treatment and patient care.

Top Physical Therapist Assistant Employers

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What Kind Of Companies Hire a Physical Therapist Assistant

  1. Genesis HealthCare
  2. RehabCare
  3. ATI Physical Therapy
  4. Drayer Physical Therapy Institute
  5. Select Rehabilitation
  6. Aegis Therapies
  7. Gentiva Health Services Inc.
  8. Rehab Care
  9. Supplemental Health Care
  10. Functional Pathways
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Physical Therapist Assistant Videos

Physical Therapist Assistant, Career Video from drkit.org

Physical Therapist Assistant, Career Video from drkit.org

Physical Therapist Assistant (AAS) degree, Faculty Advice Video from drkit.org