A Day In The Life Of A Physical Therapist Assistant

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The Work Day for a Physical Therapist Assistant

Physical therapy assistants are an integral part of America’s growing healthcare sector. Physical therapy is currently used in a wide variety of medical procedures, ranging from rehabilitative care for individuals recovering from traumatic injuries or illness, to long-term supportive care for the elderly.

Because of this, physical therapist assistant careers are enjoying sustained and robust growth in all parts of the United States.

The Daily Schedule of a Physical Therapist Assistant

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A day in the lift of a physical therapist assistant.

Physical therapist assistants work in a wide variety of facilities, including hospitals, convalescent homes and outpatient clinics. Other therapist assistants may visit the patient’s home to provide in-home care and evaluation of the patient’s progress. This means that a physical therapist’s daily schedule may vary greatly, depending on his or her specific field of employment.

However, all physical therapist assistant careers will share several common features. First of all, because physical therapy is not a branch of medicine that is required during emergency treatments, most physical therapists will work a day shift and will not usually face unexpected overtime. Some settings, such as hospitals or convalescent care centers may have differing shifts to accommodate the patients’ needs, but even in this case, the therapist assistant may expect to have a regular shift.

Preparation for the Day

Therapist assistants start their day by reviewing the documentation provided for them by the physical therapist or supervising physician.

This information includes the therapies that must be performed on various patients and any special instructions as to their care. Since most patients will receive their own specific type of physical therapy, it is important that the physical therapist assistant careful review this information.

In addition, the physical therapist assistant may directly work with the physical therapist in evaluating new patients. These sessions form a vital part of the physical therapy process and are used to help develop a long-term course of physical therapy for the patient. In most cases, after a course of physical therapy is established, the therapist assistant will play a major role in evaluating its effectiveness.

The beginning of the day will also see the physical therapist assistant reviewing any specific notices about the patients he or she will be working with. In many cases, the physical therapist assistant will find that the schedule must be adjusted in light of other medical treatments the patient is receiving. In some convalescent homes, the patient may be unable or unwilling to engage in scheduled physical therapy sessions due to his or her senile dementia or other health conditions.

Physical Therapy Sessions During the Work Day

During the day, the physical therapist assistant will engage in a series of individual physical therapy sessions with his or her patients. These sessions will vary in length and include a variety of different strategies to most effectively assist the patient. Among the most common are the following:

  • Transfer training, which involves teaching the patient how to safely move from the wheelchair to bed or other location, is a very common therapy for patients who are currently mobility impaired. In many cases, this training will include caregivers such as family members in order to ensure that the patient can receive effective and safe assistance once discharged.
  • Gait training is one of the most common areas of physical therapy, and involves training the patient how to effectively walk again. This can be especially important for patients who have suffered a traumatic injury or are recovering from an extensive period of being bed-bound.
  • One important type of physical therapy is in assisting patients who have suffered the loss of a limb to learn how to use a prosthetic replacement.
  • Therapeutic exercise is very common and involves a general program to help the patient develop his or her strength, coordination and endurance. This is commonly used to help patients recover their strength after a prolonged hospital stay. In addition, therapeutic exercise has been found to be very effective in assisting the elderly to maintain their physical and mental capabilities.

The End of the Day

After all physical therapy sessions are concluded, the physical therapist assistant will prepare accurate records of the patients’ progress and any issues that have been noted for examination by the supervising physical therapist. Maintaining accurate records is essential to ensuring that all patients receive the most effective care possible. In some cases, the physical therapist and therapist assistant may meet at the end of the day to discuss any issues that may require addressing.

Physical therapist assistants enjoy a career that allows them to provide vital care for their fellow Americans. Whether it is in assisting the elderly to live their lives to the fullest extent possible, or helping the victims of severe accidents to regain their full physical capabilities, the physical therapist assistant is an indispensable part of any effective course of medical treatment. Because of this, physical therapy assistants not only enjoy excellent pay and working conditions, but are also greatly respected by their coworkers, patients and the general public alike