Physical Therapy Assistant Job Description
Physical therapy assistants are the health care professionals who provide physical therapy services under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist. Physical therapy assistants help people of all ages who are suffering from health related conditions which limit their movements and functional activities, may be due to injuries, physical conditions etc.
They work in various environments such as hospitals, outpatient clinics, nursing homes, fitness centre and sports facilities, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, skilled nursing, extended care, or subacute facilities, education or research centres, Industrial, workplace, or other occupational environments etc.
A physical therapy assistant help recover patients in various ways such as teaching patients exercise for strength, mobility and coordination, provide training to them for activities such as walking with canes, walkers, crutches, walkers etc., use physical agents and electrotherapy such as electrical stimulation and ultrasound. You also give them message and aquatic therapy if needed.
They also report progress of the patients to physical therapist. So, you have to learn therapeutic methods. They even motivate patients during difficult exercise as well as educate the patients about how to care after the treatments.
You have to be proficient with equipment used to treat physical therapy treatments. Physical therapy assistants sometimes have to fit orthopaedic braces or other supportive devices to the patients.
To practice as a physical therapy assistant, you must be a graduate with an associate degree in physical therapy from an Accredited PTA program at college or university. PTA courses include classroom training and clinical experiences. Many of the programs also include cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training.
You also need to get a license to work as a physical therapy assistant. To get the license, you have to pass the national physical therapy exam after graduating. In some of the states, you might have to pass an additional state-administered exam.
As you have to work with patients, you need to instil some qualities and values such as compassion for them. The patients you are treating are suffering and recovering from injuries or illness and as such you have to provide them emotional support. You are providing manual therapy and therapeutic exercises; you have to be physically very strong.
Physical therapy assistants need to keep highly-detailed notes of patient progress, you have to develop required attributes for that in you.
The Pros and Cons of a Physical Therapy Assistant Career
There is a high demand of physical therapy assistants. As with other profession, the career of a physical therapy assistant does have its pros and cons. The job is available at many locations. The earning potential is also well. There is a good job security too.
As you are working with patients, sometimes you might have to work with non-cooperative patients and it needs skill to handle them. Sometimes you might catch a disease or infections from the patients. You might have to work in the evening as well as on weekends.
Salary and Career Outlook
There are many opportunities available to work as a physical therapy assistants. You also make good earning as a physical therapy assistant. According to the May 2011, the BLS report, a median salary for a physical assistant is about $51,000. The top 10% earning up to $80,000, whereas low 10% make $33,000.
According to the statistics, it is expected that the demand of physical therapy assistants is likely to grow by 46%. As health needs of the aging baby-boom generation continue toincrease demand for physical therapy services, he job outlook is very strong for physical therapy assistants.
In many practice settings, physical therapists do rely on the physical therapy assistants to make sure that all patients have access to physical therapy services. Physical therapy has long historical records of returning individuals to their maximum level of physical function and in many a time, physical therapy is preferred to surgery.
One to two years’ experience in the field enhances you job prospects. Many of the employers such as hospitals, skilled nursing facility, and home health agency look for experienced professionals to perform therapeutic work.
Standing Out in the Field
To stand out in the field, you have to keep yourself educating. You have to remain updated latest therapeutic methods and devices; it helps enhance your professional career. You can alsospecialize in a certain area such as aquatic therapy, electrical therapy, ultrasound methods etc. Again you have to keep yourself physically healthy and in shape as a physical therapy assistant, you have to prepare equipment for providing treatment, transport patients etc.
Physical therapy assistants do have a good future. If you are interested to have a career in the field of health care, you can opt for a career of physical therapy assistant. You can earn considerably well and rewarding career.