Career Development

Career development resources for aspiring professionals.

Career Change Center

Career change guides, tutorials and resources for professionals in transition.

Job Search Resources

Job search resources, websites, guides and directories for job seekers.

Physical Therapy Assistant and Aide Careers, Jobs, and Training Information

Physical Therapy Assistants and Aides Career and Job Highlights

  • Employment in the field is expected to rise quicker than the average, due to the increasing number of individuals who are disabled or have limited function and the expanding utilization of physical therapist assistants to lower costs of therapeutic services.
  • Physical therapist assistants usually obtain an associate degree, however physical therapist aides mainly receive on-the-job training.
  • Almost 75 percent of all jobs existed in hospitals or physical therapy offices.

Physical Therapy Assistant Career Overview

The tasks that physical therapist assistants and aides perform are different parts of physical therapy procedures and those directed by a physical therapist. Assistants and aides assist the therapist in providing treatments that help mobility get better, alleviate pain, and prevent or restrict enduring physical disabilities of clients who suffer from disease or injury. Patients may include victims of accidents and those with disabling circumstances like low-back pain, heart disease, arthritis, bone fractures, injuries of the head, and cerebral palsy.

Physical therapist assistants carry several different tasks. As directed and supervised by physical therapists, components of treatment procedures completed by assistants and aides include: exercises, electrical stimulation, massages, paraffin baths, traction, hot and cold packs, and ultrasound. Physical therapist assistants document and relay the patients’ responses and results of a treatment to the physical therapist.

Physical therapist aides assist in making therapy sessions useful as they are always directly supervised by the therapist or assistant. Their responsibilities include: maintaining cleanliness and organization of treatment area and ensuring preparation before each patient’s session. When patients call for support transferring to or from treatment areas, aides help push their wheelchair or offer their own shoulder as support. Aides don’t have the same medical tasks as physical therapist assistants. This is because they are not certified.

The obligations of aides include: a few administrative tasks like maintaining run out supplies, phone communication, and completing insurance forms as well as differing paperwork. The size as well as the location of the practice may affect clerical duties and work of therapist aides.

Physical Therapy Assistant Career Training and Job Qualifications

While physical therapist aides receive on-the-job training, physical therapist assistants usually receive an associate degree through attending an accredited program for physical therapist assistants. Licensure or registration is not mandatory in all states to allow physical assistants to practice. The States that necessitate licensure specify certain educational as well as examination criterion. The State licensing boards can give inclusive information on practice acts and policies. Other requirements may also be certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) as well as additional first aid and a required number of hours for experience in practices.

As of 2003, there were 245 attributed programs for physical therapist assistant in the U.S. according to the American Physical Therapy Association. Qualified physical therapist assistant programs are made to be 2 years long, or 4 semesters, and end in an associate degree. The programs are organized into in-class learning as well as interactive clinical experience. Academic classes include: anatomy and physiology, algebra, biology, chemistry, and psychology. Several programs entail students who to take anatomy and physiology classes and become certified in CPR or additional first aid prior to obtaining clinical experience. Both instructors and potential employers see clinical experience as essential to making certain that students know and comprehend a physical therapist assistant’s duties.

Employers usually mandate physical therapist aides to obtain a diploma from high school, sturdy interpersonal skills, and a want to serve those with needs. The majority of employers offer clinical training at the job.

Physical Therapy Assistants and Aides Job and Employment Opportunities

Through the year 2012, the occupation of physical therapist assistants and aides is anticipated to increase quicker than the average. The harmful effects of proposed Federal legislation inflicting restrictions on reimbursement may influence the short-term job outlook for physical therapist assistants and aides. Nevertheless, as time goes on, the need for physical therapist assistants and aides will continue to rise as a result of an increase of those who have disabilities or limiting functions. The rising elderly population is especially susceptible to long-term and debilitating circumstances that must have therapeutic services. The roles of these jobs are essential to patients who usually need extra help in their treatment. Further increasing needs for cardiac and physical therapy are due to the huge baby-boom generation that is now coming into the prime age range where heart attack and stroke risks are high. Additionally, potential medical progression should allow more proportion of victims of trauma victims to have prolonged lives, generating more of a demand for these services.

Physical therapists are projected to use more assistants in order to lower expenses of physical therapy services. Under supervision, the physical therapist assistant is able to offer several parts of the treatment after a patient has been evaluated and given a treatment plan by the physical therapist.