With the baby boomers aging by the minute, the need for proper medical attention brought about by degenerative diseases increases. This in turn also increases the demand for medical practitioners such as physical rehabilitation professionals.
A physical rehabilitation team consists of physical therapists, physical therapy assistants, and one or more physical therapy aide. As part of the team, the Physical Therapy Aide helps the Physical Therapists and Physical Therapy Assistants in providing patient care by means of additional manpower. Even though the Physical Therapy Aide is responsible only for selected delegated tasks, they are still considered as a vital part of the team.
The Physical Therapy Aide is even included in the medical conferences that discuss and evaluate patient information. These all-inclusive meetings make sure that the whole team is coherent in their patient care management and carry out their respective tasks promptly and efficiently. All positions on the team require a service-oriented individual with strong interpersonal skills to interact with the patients and the other members of the facility whether they are medical or non-medical staff.
Physical Therapy Aide or Assistant?
The job description of a Physical Therapy Aide is sometimes confused with that of a Physical Therapy Assistant. However, the Physical Therapy Assistant is more often than not, required to have either a license or registration to practice while the Physical Therapy Aide is not.
Exercises and modalities can be administered by the assistants, whereas a Physical Therapy Aide may only supplement and assist according to the direction of either physical therapist or physical therapy assistant. Physical Therapy Aides may only help supervise the patient to insure their safety and make sure that instructions from the Physical Therapist or the Physical Therapy Assistant are being carried out properly.
Physical Therapy Aide Duties
A Physical Therapy Aide is in charge of carrying out delegated tasks and is either under the close supervision of a Physical Therapist Assistant or directly under the direct supervision of a Physical Therapist, if not both. They are responsible for helping maintain work areas and treatment equipment clean and organized.
They also make sure the equipment and other facilities of the rehabilitation center are in tiptop shape for the use of the medical staff and patients. This is to promote the safety of all concerned, and to make sure that the devices are effective and ready for usage during patient treatments.
PT Aides also help take part in the patient treatment itself by transporting patients to and from treatment areas. Patients with balance problems are also escorted by a Physical Therapy Aide to make sure they do not fall over during transfers and other physical therapy activities. As mentioned before, a Physical Therapy Aide may also help motivate patients during therapy activities under the direction of either a Physical Therapy Assistant or Physical Therapist. Clerical work may also sometimes be included as part of their job, depending on the over-all need of the facility. Clerical duties may include answering the telephone, taking and relaying of messages, taking note of inventory levels, and ordering of supplies as needed.
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (a division of the Department of Labor), as of May 2010, there are only about 45,200 people employed as a physical therapy aide in the country. Greater concentrations of PT Aide jobs are found in the states of California, Texas, New Jersey, New York, and Florida.
Physical Therapy Aid positions are mainly available in:
- Ambulatory Health Care Service Providers that specifically cater to Physical Rehabilitation
- Physical Therapy Clinics
- General Medical and Surgical Hospitals
- Nursing Care Facilities
PT Aides may be employed on a full forty-hour week schedule or as a part-time employee, filling in hours most needed for additional manpower such as peak hours and weekends. Ninety percent of Physical Therapy Aides receive an hourly wage of nearly seventeen dollars, translating into an annual income of almost thirty five thousand dollars. The top paying states for this occupation are Alaska, Vermont, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia.
Since most states do not require a license to become a physical therapy aide, it is a good start for people with high school diplomas who are interested in entering the Physical Therapy field of medicine. Training is normally handled by the employing clinic or hospital. In addition, several institutions have also started offering programs on becoming a more efficient physical therapy aide.
Online courses are also available to prepare individuals whom are interested in pursuing this profession as a living. These programs and brief training help individuals to be more prepared and fit for the job. Training will help an aspiring Physical Therapy Aide to be more familiar with physical therapy as a whole and have a better understanding of its practice, language and ethics.
Greater knowledge regarding the charting and documentation processes used in the clinics help make communication with the other members of the rehabilitation team more effective for a Physical Therapy Aide. It also often helps in salary negotiations to have a thorough background knowledge about the job and nature of work, and it improves the probability of getting the job over other aspiring applicants with less training.
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