Physical therapy assistant jobs are basically the nursing or technician level in the physical therapy practice. Their primary work focus is in providing support to Physical Therapists and treatment for patients.
PT assistants perform treatment sessions with patients in order to reduce pain, increase mobility, and to lessen the affects of a physical disability or chronic illness in the everyday lives of patients. A Physical Therapist may require an assistant to help a patient learn to operate a piece of assistance equipment or complete rehabilitative exercise routines. Patients may include individuals with chronic health conditions and physical disabilities. They may also be people recovering from an accident or injury or a serious illness like a heart attack.
The major portion of the responsibilities in physical therapy assistant jobs revolves around therapy sessions with patients. Assistants perform a range of treatments for patients, including ultrasound therapy, electrical stimulation sessions and massage therapy.
In addition to the treatments that physical therapy assistants perform on patients, they also help patients in performing rehabilitative activities. Sessions may include strength, flexibility and mobility exercises, as well as exercises designed to improve balance and stabilize walking.
During therapy sessions, assistants work at keeping detailed records of all patient responses to treatments. They additionally record observations regarding improvement, continuing physical challenges, as well as the patient’s emotional and mental outlook.
After each therapy session, the assistant reviews all the session data with the Physical Therapist who ultimately determines the course of future treatments for the patient. While the Physical Therapist has the final responsibility for the patient’s health, physical therapy assistant jobs play a significant role in patient care and have some influence over their treatment.
Physical Therapy Assistant Jobs – Support Responsibilities
Physical therapy assistant jobs include the responsibility for providing support to Physical Therapists in whatever way necessary. In some physical therapy practices, there are positions for physical therapy aides who perform many of the clerical and therapy session support activities in order to promote efficient operations for the entire practice. In other practices though, it is the physical therapy assistants who are responsible for performing these work activities.
In other words, in many practices, a physical therapy assistant’s job also includes tracking inventory and ordering supplies. They record information in databases and complete insurance claim documents. They additionally sanitize therapy equipment and change the linens on exam beds or treatment tables. They may even answer phones, work the front desk, and perform other office tasks in some instances. In practices that employ physical therapy aides, most if not all, of these job responsibilities would fall to them.
If the state in which the practice is located requires a license in order for assistants to provide clinical patient treatment, then physical therapy aides will only provide support services and non-direct patient care. If, however, a license is not required, then physical therapy aide and physical therapy assistant jobs may be essentially the same. In the end, it is the practice itself and the regulatory requirements in the state which determine if there is a distinction between these two roles.
Employment Opportunities for Physical Therapy Assistant Jobs
Physical therapy assistant jobs can be found in a range of medical facilities and with many different types of health care organizations. While one of the top employers of physical therapy assistants is certainly private physical therapy clinics, there are many other employment opportunities available in the field, including:
- Nursing Homes
- Extended Care Facilities
- Home Health Services
- Private Doctors Offices
- Hospital Rehabilitation Departments
- Cardio/Pulmonary Rehab Facilities
- Occupational Health Clinics
- Pain Management Practices
You can find detailed Physical Therapy Assistant Salary information here.
Physical Requirements for Physical Therapy Staff
The responsibilities and tasks of physical therapy assistant jobs require incumbents to be in good physical condition themselves. The role of physical therapy assistant does require physical exertion on a daily basis. Assistants not only have to be able to frequently bend, kneel, stoop and lift, but they also spend a good deal of their work day on their feet.
They may also need to provide physical support and assistance to patients who are unable to move well on their own. They may need to lift patients onto treatment tables or into a water therapy tub, for example. Or they may be required to provide support to a patient who has some range of motion but not full control over their own balance or ability to sit or walk.
Most physical therapy assistant jobs have day schedules, with a standard eight to ten hour work day; however, there are practices that offer flexible or extended office hours in order to accommodate patients. These positions give assistants the chance to work a non-standard schedule.
Hospitals and other in-patient facilities also offer a number of positions during off-hours to handle patient care activities which come up during the evenings, weekends and early morning hours. There are also full time and part time physical therapy assistant jobs to choose from.