Physical therapy is an increasingly important part of any integrated healthcare system. Because of this, there is a growing demand for physical therapists and physical therapist assistants in the United States.
For those wishing to enter a personally rewarding field with excellent professional and salary prospects, becoming a physical therapist in Colorado can be a very wise choice.
The Importance of Physical Therapy and the Physical Therapist Assistant
Physical therapy is a vital part of many healthcare solutions. Whether it is assisting an individual to regain their full physical capabilities after a traumatic accident or a part of a long-term treatment plan for a degenerative disease, physical therapy is used at every stage of the healthcare process.
Among the more common uses for physical therapy are the following:
- Helping with the rehabilitation of individuals who have suffered traumatic or disabling injuries.
- Allowing individuals who have been bed-bound for a long period of time to regain the physical strength and skill needed to become mobile.
- Assisting in the mitigation of ongoing degenerative diseases involving the muscular or nervous systems.
- Helping individuals who have suffered the amputation of a limb to learn how to effectively use prosthetic replacements.
- Long-term physical therapy is often effective in helping the elderly maintain their independence for as long as possible.
While physical therapists are usually in charge of planning out the general course of treatment, physical therapist assistants are a vital part of ensuring that the treatment is effectively carried out. They work with the patient, other medical professionals and the patient’s family in order to provide the best possible therapy for the patient.
In addition, the physical therapist assistant helps train caregivers in how to best continue to provide the physical therapy once the patient has been discharged from the medical facility.
In many cases, physical therapist assistants also provide in home care for the patient in order to evaluate the patient’s progress and determine if any changes to his or her program of therapy is required.
These evaluations are then shared with physical therapists and other caregivers as a part of the evaluation process. In addition to that, the physical therapist assistant ensures that the patient and family understand how to safely and effectively use any exercise or mobility aids that the patient requires.
Becoming a Physical Therapist Assistant
The State Physical Therapy Board has developed the following requirements for any individual wishing to practice as a physical therapy assistant in Colorado:
- Complete a program for physical therapy assistants offered by an accredited school.
- Take the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE), and obtain a passing score.
- Submit a complete application to the Board.
Physical Therapist Assistant Programs
A number of community colleges and vocational programs in Colorado offer physical therapy assistant programs.
These programs usually take two years for a full-time student to complete and confer an associate’s degree upon graduation. They focus on the academic and practical knowledge required to become a physical therapist assistant, and include both classroom and hands on experience.
In order to be accepted by Colorado, all physical therapy assistant programs must be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).
This authority ensures that accredited programs adhere to industry wide standards in education, ensuring that all students will receive an effective education. A prospective student should always be certain to verify that his or her program is currently in good standing with CAPTE.
Physical Therapist Assistant Programs In Colorado
- Occupational Therapy Assistant A.A.S.
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Taking the NPTE
The NPTE is a comprehensive national exam that is designed to ensure that any passing candidate has fully mastered the knowledge he or she will need as a physical therapist assistant. Although it is possible to repeat the examination is the candidate fails to pass, this will result in a delay in receiving a license and so it is vital that the candidate be fully prepared to pass the examination the first time he or she takes it.
Licensure by Endorsement
Finally, if the individual has already obtained a physical therapist assistant’s license in another state, Colorado permits licensure by endorsement.
Licensure by endorsement has a number of requirements that must be met before an individual can qualify to practice in Colorado. For this reason, anyone intending to move to Colorado and seek licensure by endorsement is advised to contact the Board as early as possible to ensure that their state currently qualifies.
Becoming a physical therapist assistant is an excellent path to a well-regarded and compensated medical career. Due to the continuing growth of the physical therapy healthcare sector, career opportunities in this field will continue to grow for the foreseeable future. For this reason, individuals interested in a career in healthcare should seriously consider becoming a physical therapist assistant.