From just the title alone you probably would have surmised by now that the role of the physical therapist assistant is just that – to assist the physical therapist in implementing the rehabilitation of patients wanting to get their range of motion back. While they don’t have their own patients they do handle some of the selected components of the patient rehab program as well collect any data arising from the treatments given as well as well as make any modifications to such under the supervision of the physical therapist.
Like the physical therapists, PTAs handle all individual patients regardless of age. This means they may be assisting on a young patient one day and an elderly patient the next. As long as these patients have a medical or health related problem that limits their abilities to move and function properly they can be handled by the PTAs.In order to work as a physical therapists assistant you need to get a degree from a Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) accredited associates degree program which usually lasts for 2 years. Getting this degree allows a candidate to take the licensing exam in order to work in the field.
Not only that the educational requirement makes sure that the PTAs have the knowledge, competence as well as adaptability to perform all the tasks of the treatments assigned by the physical therapist to his or her patients. Not only that, this also allows the PTAs to effectively share any findings not only to the PT or to the patient themselves.
A PTAs career helps to assure patients that they have access to an effective physical therapy program. This lets the patients return to their prior state where they had full control of their physical movement without suffering from pain.
Most PTAs work in a hospital setting or in private physical therapy clinics that are either connected to a hospital or independent of it. Some work in resident sites, schools or as part of a rehabilitation unit. A majority of them do work full time.
When working at a hospital PTAs are part of team that help to rehabilitate patients admitted to the rehab program. These programs are often intense and is done to get the patient back to normal mode as soon as possible but within health and safety parameters.
For those that work in extended care facilities or nursing homes they will typically deal with the care of elderly patients. Usually the care is long term and requires not just physical therapy but nursing care as well. For those who prefer not to be fixed they can do home visits wherein the PTAs visit the patient in their homes or wherever they may be in the community for their rehab.
Like physical therapists, PTAs also deal with conditions such as arthritis, back pain, balance issues, dislocations and hand injuries. They also handle osteoporosis, sport injuries, strokes and even traumatic brain injuries.
Deborah Koval is your physical therapist.