Physical Therapist Assistant Job Description

The physical therapist assistant job description falls mainly in assisting patients with their debilitating situations such as arthritis, back pain, sports injuries, fractures, strokes, head injuries, and cerebral palsy. They are the ones that provide immediate therapeutic services that can improve the patient’s condition through:

  • Mobility
  • Alleviation of pain
  • And to cope with permanent disabilities

A physical therapist assistant may use therapeutic techniques and equipment in order to improve muscle strength. She can also assist in whirlpool baths, the utilization of ultrasonic machines, and the use infrared and ultraviolet lamps. A PTA is also the one who is tasked to teach the patient, as well as the patient’s loved ones, on how to improve physical health through exercising.

Specialties in Physical Therapy Career

There are various specialties in physical therapy such as:

  • Cardiopulmonary
  • Geriatrics
  • Neurology
  • Orthopedics
  • Pediatrics, etc.

PTA Areas of Practice

A physical therapist assistant – as her title suggests – aids the physical therapist in areas such as inpatient rehab facilities, offices, clinics, outpatient centers, extended care facilities, education centers, private residences, research centers, sports training facilities, schools, hospices occupational environments, industrial places, and many more.

They can also assist a patient’s relatives on how to utilize certain medical devices such as:

  • Braces
  • Artificial limbs
  • Wheelchairs
  • Crutches
  • Canes, etc.

Typical PTA Duties

Other duties of a physical therapist assistant include:

  • Measuring the motor function of a patient
  • Gauging balance and coordination
  • Recording muscle performance and strength
  • Finding out a patient’s range of motion
  • Creating treatment plans
  • Implementing those treatment plans
  • Assessing a patient’s capability to function on his own
  • Writing progress reports for physicians

Focus on Wound Care

More often than not, people think of physical therapy assistants as musculoskeletal experts. So they think of massages and other forms of physical treatments. But little do these people know that there is yet another area where a PTA can be called to serve.

A physical therapist assistant, at one point or so in his career, will come in contact with wound care. This is another PTA duty which can be quite challenging especially if the wound is infected and quite painful. If the wound is large, then the PTA must know how to cleanse and disinfect it. She must also know how to ambulate the patient when he can’t move about because of the injury.

A physical therapy assistant who looks forward to working in acute care will need to prepare himself for this challenge. Wound care is far from easy and the patient could become ornery because of such a condition. The preparation need not only be on gaining skills and know-how, but also to steel one’s emotions. If you’re too sensitive, then you might end up crying once the patient yells at you for causing him hurt during wound care.

Documentation – A Major PTA Responsibility 

A PTA often complains about the clerical duties that are given to them. The paperwork is numerous so we can’t blame a PTA if he starts to complain about documentation. A good PTA must effectively document the information that will be needed by the physical therapist or the doctor.

Documentation should support the physical therapy services, map out a treatment plan, and be able to convey any issues or concerns about the patient. The documents that you will prepare are often reviewed by insurance reps, medical reviewers, supervisors and even lawyers.

Make sure to document any alterations on treatment plans or status and justify the need for physical therapy still. A good document includes attaining the functions of a patient. Keep in mind that someone else will be reading the documents that you are preparing so take the time to review everything before you finalize. Remember that poor documentation could result into a ruined career in court!

The World Confederation for Physical Therapy Requirements

This organization requires PTAs to:

  1. Take a comprehensive assessment or exam of the client or patient or the needs of a certain client group.
  2. Come up with a diagnosis, prognosis and a concrete plan
  3. Give consultation within their area of expertise and conclude whether the patient needs to be referred to a different healthcare professional.
  4. The implementation of a treatment program that was designed by the physical therapist.
  5. Determine the results of the implemented treatments or interventions
  6. Formulate self-management recommendations.

Preparing Yourself for These Duties 

A physical therapist assistant must also have strong interpersonal and communication skills in order to effectively educate her patient about the treatments that are about to take place. She also needs to work closely with the patient’s family and show them how they can help in bringing about the patient’s progress.

A PTA also needs to work 40 hours or more each week. This can get taxing for most people. But for a well-prepared physical therapist assistant, this is an understandable part of the job.

Above all, a PTA must also have a compassionate heart and a natural desire to help patients fully recover. You should also be a great team player. No PTA can work alone for he should be working hand-in-hand with a physical therapist or a physician.

Remember all these duties and responsibilities and you’ll be no less than one of the best PTAs in the country!