Physical Therapy Assistant – What Do They Do?

A physical therapist assistant is someone who works under the direction of a licensed physical therapist. Their duty is to provide assistance, treatment and other activities to people with physical disorders, impairments, and disabilities. Furthermore, they help individuals to restore physical strength and function through medically approved treatments and approaches.

To be able to practice this profession, you need to finish an associate degree that accredits physical therapy assistant programs. It typically takes you two years of finishing the course. After graduation, you are required by the State to pass the licensure examination. After acquisition of  your license, you can be proud to make your mark in the health industry.

A physical therapy assistant literally assists the physical therapist in performing various treatments such as:

  • Performs percussion and vibration
  • Teach patient proper breathing techniques
  • Administer traction to relieve neck and back aches
  • Assist patient during exercise and other physical activities
  • Observe patients during treatment
  • Provide written report regarding the type of therapy provided, progress and improvement regarding the physical condition of the patient after each therapy
  • Note the response of the patient to the treatment
  • Provide both passive and active range of motion exercises
  • Assist patient during mobility activities
  • Coordinate with other health care professionals regarding treatment plan
  • Provide health teaching to patients
  • Secure patients to therapeutic machine and equipment
  • Monitor patient during therapy as well as the equipment being used
  • Teach patient regarding the proper use of crutches, walker, and traction
  • Assist patient to perform activities of daily living such as walking, climbing stairs, and putting on clothes
  • Transfer patients to and from the rehabilitation area
  • Provide therapeutic massage and other therapeutic electrical modalities
  • Reports directly to the physical therapist

Physical therapy assistants may also do some clerical or office work even outside the health industry. They order supplies needed by the therapist and physician a well as preparing the necessary tools needed during therapy. They also prepare the patient prior to the therapy by transferring them from one area to another. They may also do some administrative works like answering phones and handling insurance paper works.

There are lots of job opportunities for them. They may work in a hospital setting, home health care facility, nursing home facility, and in a rehabilitation center. Wherever there is a physical therapist, there is also an assistant.  Physical therapy assistants must have the patience, perseverance, knowledge, expertise and skills to perform their job effectively and competently.


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