• Home  / 
  • Q And A
  •  /  Typical Physical Therapy Assistant Careers

View the new FAQ Section »

Typical Physical Therapy Assistant Careers

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

Types of PTA careersAll 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.

All physical therapist assistants need to be able to carry out the following duties:

  • 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.
  • 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.

Matching School Ads
Launch your education at Wake Forest University, committed to educating the whole person since 1834. Pursue your degree and enjoy a student/faculty ratio of 11:1.

Programs:

  • Master of Arts in Counseling - School Counseling
  • Master of Arts in Counseling - Clinical Mental Health
Get the hands-on training and skills it takes to succeed with Ashworth College, a respected, worldwide leader in distance education. Study at the times and places most convenient for you.

Programs:

  • Payroll Clerk
  • Private Investigation
  • High School
  • And more...
  • Recognized as a Top 20 Best Online Bachelor’s Program by U.S. News & World Report in 2016.
  • Online, campus-based, and evening courses offered in 95 areas of study, including Business, Nursing, Psychology, & more.
  • Endorsed by G.I. Jobs and Military Advanced Education magazine as a Military Friendly School in 2015.
  • Features small class sizes, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 23 to 1.
  • 88% of Regent University students receive financial aid, with $18 million awarded in institutional scholarships & aid each year.

Programs:

  • Doctor of Education in Christian Education Leadership
  • Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership - Organizational Leadership
  • Bachelor of Arts in English - Self-Designed
  • 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

Programs:

  • 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...
  • Offers MUSE (My Unique Student Experience), a content delivery system that gives students the option to watch, view, read or listen to required course materials.
  • Allows students to complete courses at whatever pace they want.
  • A DANTES-affiliated university and member of the Service Members Opportunity Colleges.
  • Offers IntelliPath, a proprietary learning technology that lets students learn at their own pace.

Programs:

  • Bachelor of Accounting
  • Bachelor's (BSCJ) - Law Enforcement
  • Bachelor's (BSCJ) - Forensic Science
  • And more...
  • 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.

Programs:

  • International Business - D.B.A.
  • Leadership in Higher Education - EdS
  • MS Organizational Leadership - Nonprofit Management
  • 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!

Programs:

Advance your career with an online degree from California InterContinental University. Our accelerated distance-learning degree programs are both fast and flexible, enabling students to complete their degrees in one to three years.

Programs:

  • Bachelor of Engineering Information Technology Emphasis in Network and Systems Security (BEITNSS)
  • Bachelor of Engineering Information Technology in Project Management (BEITPM)
  • Master of Business Administration in Healthcare Management and Leadership (MBAHCML)
  • And more...

Study for your graduate education with University of Illinois at Chicago. We offer master’s degree and post-master’s certificate programs in health informatics that can be completed 100% online.

Programs:

  • Master of Science in Health Informatics

Ohio University has offered distance learning educational opportunities for more than 100 years. Our nationally-ranked graduate programs provide flexible opportunities to students around the globe

Programs:

  • Master of Business Analytics
  • Master of Health Administration