Physical therapist assistants and aides help physical therapists to provide treatment that improves patient mobility, relieves pain, and prevents or lessens physical disabilities of patients. A physical therapist might ask a physical therapist assistant to help patients exercise or learn to use crutches, for example, or an aide to gather and prepare therapy equipment. Patients include accident victims and individuals with disabling conditions such as lower-back pain, arthritis, heart disease, fractures, head injuries, and cerebral palsy.
Related job titles are: Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA), Physical Therapy Assistant (PTA), Physical Therapy Technician, Licensed Physical Therapist Assistant (LPTA), or Licensed Physical Therapy Assistant (LPTA).
Important Physical Therapy Assistant degree information -Top of Page-
- Employment is projected to grow much faster than average.
- Physical therapist assistants should have very good job prospects; on the other hand, aides may face keen competition from the large pool of qualified applicants.
- Aides usually learn skills on the job, while physical therapist assistants have an associate degree; most States require licensing for assistants.
- Most jobs are in offices of other health practitioners and in hospitals.
How much does a Physical Therapy Assistant make in salary? || Physical Therapy Assistant pay -Top of Page-
Median annual wages of physical therapist assistants were $46,140 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned a salary of between $37,170 and $54,900. The lowest 10 percent earned a salary of less than $28,580, and the highest 10 percent earned a salary of more than $63,830.
Median annual wages of physical therapist aides were $23,760 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned a salary of between $19,910 and $28,670. The lowest 10 percent earned a salary of less than $17,270, and the highest 10 percent earned a salary of more than $33,540.
What is a Physical Therapy Assistant? || What does a Physical Therapy Assistant do? || Job descriptions -Top of Page-
Physical therapist assistants assist physical therapists in providing care to patients. Under the direction and supervision of physical therapists, they provide exercise, instruction; therapeutic methods like electrical stimulation, mechanical traction, and ultrasound; massage; and gait and balance training. Physical therapist assistants record the patient's responses to treatment and report the outcome of each treatment to the physical therapist.
The duties of aides include some clerical tasks, such as ordering depleted supplies, answering the phone, and filling out insurance forms and other paperwork. The extent to which an aide or an assistant performs clerical tasks depends on the needs and organization of the facility.
Work environment for Physical Therapy Assistants -Top of Page-
Physical therapist assistants and aides need a moderate degree of strength because of the physical exertion required in assisting patients with their treatment. In some cases, assistants and aides need to lift patients. Frequent kneeling, stooping, bending, and standing for long periods also are part of the job. The hours and days that physical therapist assistants and aides work vary with the facility. About 28 percent of all physical therapist assistants and aides work part-time. Many outpatient physical therapy offices and clinics have evening and weekend hours, to coincide with patients' personal schedules.
How to become a Physical Therapy Assistant || Physical Therapy Assistant classes and degree programs -Top of Page-
In most States, physical therapist assistants are required by law to hold an associate degree. The American Physical Therapy Associationís Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education accredits career college physical therapy assistant programs. In 2009, there were 223 accredited programs, which usually last 2 years and culminate in an associate degree.
Programs are divided into academic coursework and hands-on clinical experience. Academic coursework includes algebra, English, anatomy and physiology, and psychology. Clinical work includes certifications in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and other first aid, and field experience in treatment centers. Both educators and prospective employers view clinical experience as essential to ensuring that students understand the responsibilities of a physical therapist assistant.
Most States require physical therapist assistants to graduate from an accredited education program and pass the National Physical Therapy Exam. Some States may require physical therapy assistants to pass State exams. Many States also require continuing education credits for physical therapist assistants to maintain licensure. Complete information on regulations can be obtained from State licensing boards.
Where are the Physical Therapy Assistant jobs? -Top of Page-
Physical therapist assistants and aides held about 109,900 jobs in 2008. Physical therapist assistants held about 63,800 jobs; physical therapist aides held 46,100. Both work with physical therapists in a variety of settings. About 72 percent of jobs were in offices of other health practitioners and in hospitals. Others worked primarily in nursing care facilities, home healthcare services, and outpatient care centers.
Physical Therapy Assistant job opportunities and outlook -Top of Page-
Employment of physical therapist assistants and aides is expected to grow by 35 percent from 2008 through 2018, much faster than the average for all occupations. Changes to restrictions on reimbursement for physical therapy services by third-party payers will increase patient access to services and, thus, increase demand. The increasing number of people who need therapy reflects, in part, the increasing elderly population. The elderly population is particularly vulnerable to chronic and debilitating conditions that require therapeutic services.
Physical therapists are expected to increasingly use assistants and aides to reduce the cost of physical therapy services. Once a patient is evaluated and a treatment plan is designed by the physical therapist, the physical therapist assistant can provide many parts of the treatment, as directed by the therapist.