The field of physical therapy is an increasingly important part of America’s health care sector.
Especially with the growing number of elderly individuals requiring physical therapy, in addition to the increased importance of sports medicine, this field is providing robust and growing employment opportunities for physical therapist assistants.
However, there are a wide variety of available physical therapist assistant jobs and specialties, and it is important that anyone intending to become a physical therapist assistant consider what field they are most interested in.
Physical therapist assistant jobs range from hospital based rehabilitation to in-home physical therapy for seniors and homebound individuals.
Duties and Responsibilities of Physical Therapist Assistants
All physical therapist assistants have the same basic responsibilities. They work with the supervising physical therapist and physician to help set up and implement a program of physical therapy for their patients.
In most cases, every patient’s physical therapy program is individualized, requiring that the physical therapist assistant be able to handle a number of different procedures at the same time.
- Effectively understand and carry out the program of physical therapy ordered by the physical therapist.
- Instruct and assist the patient in carrying out his or her physical therapy in a safe and effective manner.
- Observe the progress the patient is making and report any difficulties to his or her physician.
- Instruct other caregivers, including family members, in how to best assist the patient during physical therapy sessions.
- Instruct the patient in how to safely use any equipment used during physical therapy sessions.
Physical Therapy Careers
There are a wide range of careers that physical therapy assistants can enter. Currently, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that about 55 percent of physical therapist assistants work in providing ambulatory health care services to patients.
Of the rest, 28 percent work in various types of hospital settings, and 12 percent work in residential care and nursing facilities.
Physical Therapist Assistants and Ambulatory Care
In most cases, ambulatory care refers to patients who are not hospitalized and are treated on an outpatient basis.
Ambulatory care can also include in-home visitations as well as seeing the patient at a clinic or physical therapist’s office. Because of the non-emergency nature of these sessions, most physical therapy assistants working in ambulatory care enjoy a regular work schedule.
Ambulatory care can include the following types of physical therapy that the physical therapist assistant will help provide:
- Long-term physical therapy to recover from serious injuries such as fractures or neurological damage.
- Physical therapy to counteract the symptoms from degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease.
- Eldercare often involves physical therapy sessions in order to help maintain the individual’s physical and mental independence.
- Individuals who have suffered the amputation of a limb often make use of outpatient therapy to learn how to effectively make use of their prosthetics.
- The rise in sports-related injuries is creating an increasing demand for physical therapist assistants in the field of sports medicine.
Depending on the practice, a physical therapy assistant may have a job that specializes in a single area, or may have a broader range of responsibilities.
Larger clinics often see more specialized physical therapy assistants, while therapy assistants working with smaller practices will usually handle a variety of patients.
Hospital Based Physical Therapy
Hospital based physical therapy is focused on patients who are currently under full-time care at a hospital. In most cases, this care will focus on assisting the patient to recover from injury, illness or a surgical procedure. Physical therapist assistants working at a hospital will often have unscheduled overtime and may be required to perform other duties, at the direction of the medical staff.
One important type of care these individuals provide is to assist patients who have been bedridden to regain their muscle tone and physical capabilities. This requires a carefully planned and conducted campaign of physical therapy, as long-term inactivity can result in severe strength loss and the physical therapist assistant must be careful to avoid causing injury during therapy sessions.
Residential and Nursing Care Facilities
Residential and nursing care facilities usually have a number of individuals who are elderly and are suffering from long-term degenerative conditions. In most cases, physical therapy for these individuals is designed to improve their quality of life, rather than attempting to rectify any specific health condition.
Physical therapy assistants working in nursing care facilities must have a very professional and patient manner. In many cases, they will be working with patients who are suffering from various types of senile dementia. This will require the physical therapy assistant to remain calm in the face of individuals who are often hostile, frightened or confused as to where they are.
Physical therapy assistants can find a wide variety of professionally and personally rewarding careers in the American healthcare sector. Whether the assistant is working as part of a hospital healthcare team, or is providing physical therapy at a nursing care facility, he or she will continue to enjoy excellent professional advancement options.
- Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
- Ranked among the Best Online MBA Programs by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
- Founded in 1890, it has a campus in Waterbury, CT and offers online degree program in eight-week modules, six times a year.
- About 800 students are enrolled at the main campus, and about half of them commute.
- Online courses make it possible for students to earn a bachelor’s degree in as little as 18 months and a master’s degree in 14-24 months.
- Graduate Certificate in Alcohol & Drug Counseling
- B.S. in Human Services / Human Services Management
- B.A. in Psychology / Organizational Psychology
- And more...
- Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor's Programs in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
- Lets undergrad students try classes before paying any tuition.
- Has an average class sizes of 18 for undergraduate and 13 for graduate-level courses.
- Offers numerous scholarship opportunities that can help students save up to $750 per term on their tuition.
- Tends to educate degree-seeking online and campus-based students who are adult learners with families and students who work while pursuing higher education.
- BS in Business Administration
- MS in Accounting - Audit Specialization
- AAS in Criminal Justice
- And more...
- Payroll Clerk
- Private Investigation
- High School
- And more...
- Associate’s, Bachelor’s, and Master’s degrees available in a wide range of fields.
- Flexible online programs offered in Psychology, Criminal Justice, Education, and more.
- Assigned Financial Services Advisors to help answer student financial questions.
- Servicemembers and their spouses can apply for the Ashford Military Grant to reduce tuition for all undergraduate courses.
- Associate of Arts - Early Childhood.
- BA/Early Childhood Education Administration
- BA/Education Studies
- And more...
- Online Bachelor's programs include Healthcare Management, Public Health, IT, Psychology, BBA & Criminal Justice
- Dedicated to delivering quality education and personalized attention to students since 1899
- Provide a range of campus experiences and services online including advising, tutoring, student community, and career services
- Give students and alumni access to career assistants who help with resumes, cover letters, job hunting, and more.
- We're now Non-Profit.
- Nurse Educator (PGC)
- Nursing (RN to BSN)
- Master of Science in Human Resources Management
- And more...
- Home Health Aide
- Security Guard
- Small Engine Repair
- And more...
- Personalized learning that’s guided by industry trends
- Technology-driven approach designed to help you reach your potential
- Access to real-world learning and strong thought leadership
- Convenient ways to complete your degree even with a busy schedule
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN completion)
- Master of Science in Information Technology - Network Management
- Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Human Services
- And more...
- Find Online Schools. 100% Online Accredited Courses
- Get Matched to Programs In A Few Clicks!
- Earn an Affordable Degree from Home at your own pace
- Get College info today. Its Free and Easy!
Founded more than 130 years ago by the Congregation of the Holy Spirit, Duquesne has grown to become one of the nation's top Catholic universities. The school’s mission is to provide a well-rounded education that challenges students academically while nourishing their spiritual and ethical development. Today, Duquesne is home to 10 schools of study and serves more than 10,000 students.
- Online Doctor of Nursing Practice
- Northcentral University was founded in 1996 to provide working professionals around the world with unprecedented access to richly engaging, professionally relevant, and academically-rigorous education from a U.S. university.
- As a regionally accredited, private, online and graduate-focused university, NCU offers doctoral, master’s and bachelor’s degrees in business, technology management, education, and psychology, as well as doctoral and master’s degrees in marriage and family therapy.
- International Business - D.B.A.
- Leadership in Higher Education - EdS
- MS Organizational Leadership - Nonprofit Management
- And more...