What does a Physical Therapy Assistant do?
Physical Therapy Assistants are healthcare professionals who directly assist Physical Therapists in recovery treatments. They observe patients before, during and after undergoing therapy sessions and take consistent notes of their progress and health status for the Physical Therapist to review.
When a Physical Therapist examines, diagnoses and builds a treatment plan for a patient, the Physical Therapy Assistant helps patients perform the exercises and mobility techniques as instructed by the Physical Therapist. They also complete clerical duties like scheduling appointments, answering phone calls and emails and sanitizing the therapy rooms after sessions.
Physical Therapy Assistant skills and qualifications
Physical Therapy Assistants use a variety of skills to provide the most comprehensive care to their patients. The specific skill set required for a Physical Therapy Assistant can vary from employer to employer but typically include the following:
- Compassion and empathy
- Attention to detail
- Organizational skills
- Manual dexterity
- Interpersonal skills
- Physical stamina
Physical Therapy Assistant salary expectations
A Physical Therapy Assistant makes an average of $53,143 per year. Pay rate may depend on the applicant’s level of experience, education and geographic location.
Physical Therapy Assistant education and training requirements
Each state requires a Physical Therapy Assistant to receive an associate degree from an accredited Physical Therapy Assistant program. Programs usually take around two years to complete and include classroom study in psychology, physiology, anatomy, English and algebra. PTA students also receive practical experience while completing supervised clinical work. During this time they will likely receive certifications in basic life support (BLS), cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and other skills in first aid.
Physical Therapy Assistant experience requirements
Each state requires Physical Therapy Assistants to be certified or licensed. This generally includes graduating from an accredited Physical Therapy Assistant program and successfully completing the National Physical Therapy Exam for Physical Therapy Assistants. The Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy administers this exam.
Some states also require that Physical Therapy Assistants be at least 18 years old, complete a criminal background check and pass an exam on state laws regulating the practice of PTAs. Physical Therapy Assistants typically need to complete continuing education courses to maintain their licensure.
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