Physical therapy is an increasingly important part of America’s healthcare sector.
From providing the therapy needed to regain full physical function after a traumatic accident to helping the elderly remain independent and healthy, physical therapists and therapist assistants are finding their services in greater demand than ever before.
What does a Physical Therapist Assistant Do?
A physical therapy assistant in Delaware is a licensed medical professional who works in concert with physical therapists, physicians, and other medical professionals in planning, implementing and evaluating a course of physical therapy for a patient.
In most cases, the physical therapy is specifically tailored for each individual patient’s medical needs.
As a part of his or her duties, a physical therapist assistant will conduct the following activities:
- Under the direction of other medical professionals, prepare and implement a course of physical therapy for the patient.
- Assist the patient in carrying out his or her physical therapy in a safe and effective manner.
- Provide regular reports to the supervising medical staff in order to determine how effective the therapy is and whether or not it needs to be modified.
- Help train the patient and his or her home caregivers in how to conduct exercises once released from the supervision of the therapist.
- For mobility-impaired patients, the physical therapist assistant may provide training in how to use various types of mobility enhancement tools, such as walkers and canes.
Physical Therapist Assistants and Prostheses
Many individuals who have suffered a traumatic injury may be fitted with prosthetic limbs. In this case, the physical therapy assistant will play an important role in assisting the patient in learning how to use and maintain his or her new limbs.
Because of the growing complexity of these systems, this is becoming an ever more important specialty for physical therapy assistants.
Becoming a Physical Therapist Assistant in Delaware
Like most states, Delaware only permits licensed physical therapy assistants to work in the state. Licensure is handled by the Delaware Examining Board of Physical Therapists and Athletic Trainers.
- Complete a physical therapy assistant program at a school that has been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).
- Successfully complete the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE).
- Submit all required application materials in addition to the licensure and application fees.
Graduates of Foreign Programs
Foreign physical therapy assistant programs are not accredited by the CAPTE and are not automatically accepted by Delaware.
Individuals who have completed a foreign program must submit to a credential evaluation process.
This process can take some time, so foreign graduates intending to practice in Delaware should submit this information as soon as possible in order to avoid possible delays in licensure.
Delaware does allow individuals who have not yet obtained their NPTE exam scores to obtain a temporary license.
It requires that the therapy assistant work directly under a licensed supervisor. Furthermore, a temporary license cannot be used to satisfy reciprocal licensure requirements in other states.
A temporary license lasts for three months and will be immediately revoked if the individual fails the NPTE.
Physical Therapist Assistant Programs
Physical therapy assistant programs generally take about two years for a full-time student to complete. These programs include a range of academic and clinical instruction and in some schools may also involve working with actual patients while under the supervision of the instructors.
Many of these programs also allow students to attend on a part-time basis, which can be beneficial for those students who are already employed. In addition, some schools offer distance learning and online programs, limiting the amount of time the student must spend at the school. However, some courses and examinations may require that the student physically attend the class.
It is extremely important that the student make certain that his or her program is accredited by the CAPTE. Delaware will not accept completion of a non-accredited program, which may force the student to repeat his or her education.
Students interested in verifying their program’s current status can check with the CAPTE in order to ensure that their school is in good standing.
Physical Therapist Assistant Programs In Delaware
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The NPTE is a comprehensive examination that is offered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT). This exam evaluates the student’s practical and academic qualifications to become a physical therapy assistant. Furthermore, it is regularly updated in order to ensure that it reflects the current state of the art in the field of physical therapy.
Although a candidate can repeat the examination if he or she fails it, repeating the test will substantially delay the candidate’s licensure process. In addition, candidates currently working with a temporary license will find their license revoked and be unable to continue working as physical therapy assistants. For this reason, a student should only take the NPTE when he or she is fully prepared for it.
Ultimately, becoming a physical therapy assistant can be an excellent choice, both for newly graduated students and individuals seeking to transition to a more professionally and personally rewarding career. In addition to the material benefits, physical therapy assistants enjoy a great deal of respect from their coworkers, supervisors and the general public alike.
With a strong and growing job market for therapy assistants, this field can provide abundant advancement and employment opportunities.
Finally, physical therapist assistants can benefit from the knowledge that they are providing a vital service to their fellow citizens as they help them regain their full physical capabilities after an accident or illnesses.