Definition of Physical Therapy Assistant
Physical therapy assistants are medical professionals who work under the direction of physical therapists and doctors help patients gain increased mobility and range of motion. They also work to alleviate pain due to injury, disease, or other medical conditions. Like physical therapists the goal is to restore functioning and independence. Physical therapy assistants assist with patient exercises and use of equipment. They also perform tasks related to massage, ultrasound, gait, and electrical stimulation.
Educational Requirements to Become a Physical Therapy Assistant
Becoming a physical therapist assistant requires an associate’s degree from an accredited program. There are additional licensing requirements which vary by state. Generally physical therapist assistants must be certified in CPR and first aid, complete a specific number of fieldwork hours, and pass a state exam. Course work includes the study of basic medical science classes as well as general education classes. A clinical internship must also be completed as part of the program.
Skills Necessary to Become a Physical Therapy Assistant
Being a physical therapy assistant requires good communication skills and an interest in helping people. Physical therapy assistants should be good listeners. Being a physical therapy assistant can also be a physically demanding position so those in the field should be strong enough to lift and be able to bend, kneel and stand for long periods of time.
Job and Career Outlook for a Physical Therapy Assistant
The job outlook for physical therapy assistants is excellent with a projected increased need of 35% by 2018. Physical therapy assistants work in hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, home health care facilities and in private offices. The hours vary depending on the facility and oftentimes evening and weekend work are required in order to accommodate patients with full time jobs. The average salary range for physical therapist assistants is $32,230-$73,760.