Physical Therapist Assistant Career Overview

Are you thinking about pursuing a career in physical therapy? Then you need to learn the education and license  requirements as well as get an insight on the career path before acting on your plan. I hope, you know that physical therapy is all about the evaluation and treatment of body disorders resulting from disease, injuries or mental conditions. Physical therapy patients are those who receive treatments that are related to disorders or diseases; they seek physical therapy in order to improve their physical condition or to prevent further injuries.

Becoming a physical therapist is now a lot easier with the numerous programs that one can find from accredited online schools. With over 200,000 patients seeking physical therapy on a daily basis, this is a good option for one who seeks a stable career.

How to become a physical therapist assistant

It is possible to become a physical therapist assistant with an Associate’s degree, though there are numerous states that require you to pass a license exam in order to begin practicing this profession.

Ultimately, if you want to become a physical therapist, you will need to acquire a Master’s degree with no regard for the Bachelor’s degree that you took in college. As long as you have completed the prerequisites for your Master’s degree, then you can go up the career ladder and become a physical therapist.

Areas of Practice

A PTA may practice in different settings, whether in inpatient or outpatient scenarios. Her areas of practice may include any of the following:

  • Rehab facilities
  • Clinics
  • Skilled nursing facilities
  • Schools
  • Home health
  • Industrial settings
  • Sports or any other athletic facilities
  • Fitness centers
  • Hospitals
  • Community-based settings

What does a physical therapist assistant do

  • Organize and clean her work area
  • Disinfect equipment after patient treatment
  • Patient observation during physical therapy
  • Compile and evaluate data on patient responses
  • Record patient progress and report them to the physical therapist
  • Instruct and safeguard patients who are doing exercises and functional activities. She can do this under medical staff direction.
  • Aid patients onto therapy equipment
  • Confer with other physical therapy staff regarding patient treatment and evaluation.
  • Perform clerical duties like ordering supplies, taking inventory, taking messages, answering the telephone and filling out necessary forms.
  • Record the equipment and treatment used.
  • Maintain furniture and equipment functionality
  • Change linens like pillow cases and bed sheets
  • Administer passive and active therapeutic exercises
  • Administer therapeutic massage
  • Perform light, heat, water, sound or electrical modality treatments
  • Arrange the needed treatment supplies
  • Assist in undressing, dressing, putting on and removing supportive devices, etc.
  • Record patient’s range-of-joint motion and vital signs
  • Train and fit patients with prostheses, orthopedic braces, and supportive devices.
  • Administer traction in relieving back or neck pain.

Additional Physical Therapist Assistant Training

For inpatient settings, a physical therapist assistant normally works in the critical care or the intensive care unit. When working in outpatient settings, she can assist in orthopedics, neurology or wound care.

A PTA may choose to seek additional training from continuing education such as aquatic therapy, cardiovascular rehab, sports therapy, gynecology, pediatrics, geriatrics or vestibular rehabilitation.

A physical therapist is considered to be a musculoskeletal expert and with this recognition comes many opportunities for patient interaction and treatment. This will definitely have an impact on the duties of a PTA.

Physical therapist assistant salary Structures

A PTA’s salary range is from $45,000 to $84,000 each year in Canada and the U.S. An assistant with basic qualifications such as a diploma, certificates or an Associate Degree plus formal training may be given an annual salary of at least $45,000. In addition to a PTA’s basic qualifications, she should also have cardiopulmonary resuscitation and cardiopulmonary certificates.

Naturally, a PTA who earns expertise, experience and a higher ability to handle multiple tasks will eventually have more attractive salary offers. Consequentially, she will draw higher salaries that can reach a maximum of $84,000 per annum. There are factors that need to be considered in the amount of salary that will be offered to a practicing PTA. These factors include:

  • The size of the medical facility that she’s employed at
  • Location
  • Experience
  • Educational attainment
  • Industry
  • Benefits accrued

Travel Job Opportunities

There is an increasing demand in filling up traveling physical therapist assistant jobs all over the U.S. These are jobs for PTAs who seek to travel and who would want to work in a wider variety of settings and locations. You are bound to learn methodologies and treatment procedures from varying cultures which you can take with you to your next jobs.

Traveling PTAs have better salaries and benefits such as health and life insurances. You can also be provided with a 401K savings plan and travel allowances.

As a traveling PTA, you can be tasked to work with occupational therapists, physical therapists, or even physicians.

Overall: A Rewarding Career

Being a PTA is a financially and spiritually rewarding career. You get to earn for your family, stay at an established job, and bless the lives of patients who seek out to get better. If you’re ready to experience all these, then it’s time to start scouting for a good school to get your education from.