A physical therapy assistant is a licensed health care professional that has received special training. These health care assistants work with physical therapists in treating patients who have physical disabilities and injuries. Many treatments are designed to relive pain and improve the patient’s mobility.
In the United States there are over two hundred physical therapy assistant programs that are available today. To be considered for one of these programs, candidates need to have a high grade point average, primarily in the main sciences such as chemistry, biology, and statistics.
Each candidate will have to volunteer in the health care field, ideally as a aide, and also show community participation by taking part in some service program. It is also important to have recommendations from physical therapists because this is another prerequisite for being accepting into a PTA program.
What Does A Physical Therapy Assistant Do?
A physical therapy assistant works with a physical therapist in the treatment of patients who suffer from injuries or physical disabilities. All work performed by this type of health care assistant is supervised by licensed physical therapists. They provide a number of techniques when caring for patients, including exercise treatment protocols, deep soft tissue massage, and general mobility training.
They also perform physical modalities including ultrasound and electrotherapy. This type of therapy assistant may also apply ice or heat therapy to patients, help them learn how to use equipment such as crutches, or teach them stretches and exercises that improve their range of motion.
They may also help physical therapists implement fitness and wellness programs so the patient can enjoy a more active lifestyle. In addition, assistants in this profession have to know how to correctly use various kinds physical therapy equipment. Physical therapy assistants might also have to answer phones, complete insurance paperwork, and order supplies.
These types of health care professionals work with individuals of every age group. Injured athletes, stroke victims, children that have cerebral palsy, and patients that have recently undergone a surgical procedure are only a very small sample of patients that may need physical therapy services.
An individual that decides to become a physical therapy assistant needs to have very communication skills, along with being able to demonstrate kindness and patience.
Because most patients actually see therapist soon after surgery or right after they have experienced an injury, they are often suffering with high levels of emotional stress and pain. It is very important that the physical therapist assistant has a genuine desire to help people, and also has the ability to help patients feel comfortable with their treatment. It is essential that the therapy assistant knows how to work as part of a team, not only with physical therapists, but also with other health care employees.
How To Become A Physical Therapy Assistant
This career requires a two-year associate degree from an accredited school. Many areas also require a license. The accredited school needs to have a program that has been approved by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education, generally known as CAPTE accreditation. The accreditation assures the quality of the courses, as well as the instructors.
A student that is enrolled in a program to become a physical therapy assistant will have to study many different courses, such as algebra, anatomy, biology, chemistry, physiology and psychology. The student has to become certified in CPR or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and also first aid. Along with these requirements, the student will have to acquire some practical experience in the physical therapy field.
Once the program is completed, the majority of states require that potential therapy assistants successfully complete a test to become licensed in this specific health care profession. The license usually has to be renewed every couple of years.
Jobs for PTA vary and several offer opportunities for advancement. Physical therapy offices, home health care providers, skill nursing facilities, and nursing homes all require the services of physical therapy assistants.
Physical therapist assistants also work for rehabilitation centers, hospitals, and school districts. Many of these positions have regular work day hours, but there are also opportunities to work evenings and weekends. Some assistants get to travel for their jobs, and different types of therapy facilities offer this.
Benefits of Becoming A PTA
PTAs have very high job-satisfaction levels according to several studies. Job security is another benefit of this career because there is a soaring demand in this field. The average median annual salary for this position is over $46,000. Of course, this will vary by area and state. This type of career is very rewarding because PTA get to work with patients one-on-one, watch them make progress, and also be a positive influence their lives.