Physical Therapy Assistant

Physical therapy assistants work in the health care profession helping physical therapists in gathering information about patients and testing them to determine their needs. They also assist physical therapists in teaching patients how to do whatever exercises are recommended and how to use crutches wheel chairs or even prosthetic limbs if these are prescribed. In addition they help lift patients and move equipment and they check on the progress patients are making. Physical therapy assistants may also be in charge of answering phones ordering supplies and completing insurance paperwork. Physical therapy assistants usually work in hospitals nursing homes and clinics but some work for home health care agencies. They are supervised by physical therapists but other members of the health care team that works with the same patients include physicians occupational therapists and social workers. According to the website in most states it is mandatory for physical therapy assistants to have a minimum of an associate’s degree from an accredited physical therapy assistant program. These two-year programs include courses such as anatomy psychology and mathematics and many require clinical experience in treatment centers as well as training that leads to certification in CPR. Upon graduation physical therapy assistants must pass the National Physical Therapy Exam to become licensed but individual states may have their own licensing exam or requirements. In addition to the necessary education physical therapy assistants need to be physically fit because they must be able to lift and move patients and much of their work involves kneeing bending and standing for a long time. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median annual earnings for physical therapy assistants are approximately $46200. However those working for home health care agencies earn a higher median wage of approximately $52000.

Education Required: Associate's Degree
Avg Salary: $49100
High Salary: $52000
Low Salary: $46200
Tasks: Aids physical therapists in testing patients.
Teaches patients how to complete exercises.
Monitors patients' physical therapy progress.
Communicates with patients and physical therapists about physical therapy programs.
Also Called: Therapeutic Care Assistant
Rehabilitation Care Assistant
Physical Therapy Technician
Occupational Therapy Assistant
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