Physical therapy technicians are also known as physical therapy assistants, and help Physical Therapists in the rehabilitation of their patients. Their main job is to employ various rehabilitation techniques to help their patients recover from debilitating conditions, although their responsibilities may differ according to the specific hospital or employer.
Education Requirements For A Physical Therapy Technician
An Associate Degree is usually the minimum requirement for most physical therapy technician positions although some employers prefer the completion of a four year program. Many jobs also provide additional on the job training to further enhance their skills and knowledge.
Many community colleges and hospitals offer certificate or degree programs for physical therapy technicians that cover patient care skills, basic health science, and other foundation subjects. They may also offer internships which lead to hiring after graduation.
Physical therapy technician training programs include subjects in math, science, biology, anatomy, physiology, neuroscience, cellular histology, biomechanics, exercise physiology, pharmacology, and pathology among others. Behavioral topics such as clinical reasoning and evidence-based methods are also commonly included.
Degree programs combine classroom coursework, laboratory and clinical training, and general education courses. Some advance topic courses such as advanced kinesiology, psychology, and therapeutic exercises are also offered. Coursework may also involve learning the use of various equipments such as tilt tables, ultraviolet lamps, heat lamps, weights, and parallel bars.
To get an edge over your competition, individuals who are interested in becoming a physical therapy technician should seek to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree from an accredited educational institution. Those who are interested in becoming a licensed Physical Therapist can take graduate physical therapy programs for certification. Internship or volunteer experience is usually required before application to any physical therapy program, including the programs to become a physical therapy technician.
The graduate program will expose students to responsibilities of a physical therapy technician such as the taking of measurements, conduct examinations, perform diagnosis, and executing therapeutic interventions. A Master’s Degree program may take two and a half years, while Doctorate programs may take three or four years to complete.
Before physical therapy technicians are allowed to treat patients, they must pass the National Physical Therapy Board Exam. They must also have experience in CPR and basic life support.
Physical Therapy Technician Career Profile
The US Bureau of Labor and Statistics, bls.gov, predicts there will be a steady demand for physical therapy technician workers by up to 36% until the year 2018. There is a rise in medical developments which increase the survival rate of patients who suffer from debilitating conditions which then require the services of more physical therapy technicians.
Nature of the work
Physical therapy technicians work under the direct supervision of a physical therapist to provide rehabilitation and therapy services to their patients. They make use of techniques and treatment procedures to help their patients regain their sense of balance and mobility as well as relieve any pain and discomfort.
Patients come in all ages and different backgrounds, although some work specifically with older people who have difficulty moving due to arthritis and other mobility problems. They may also work with handicapped children, those who have lost a limb, suffer from arthritis or paralysis due to an accident or stroke. A physical therapy technician employs various procedures and equipment to help his or her patients recover, such as the use of massage, heat and cold therapy, light therapy, exercise, and muscle strengthening. They also help their patients to properly use prosthetics, braces, wheelchairs, and other support devices.
Almost every physical therapy technician is responsible for assisting his or her supervisors with non-clinical tasks. They may also be required to do some office work for the Physical Therapist or prepare a room for consultation. They may help patients learn how to move, stretch, strengthen their muscles or weak joints. It is their responsibility to keep treatment areas clean and well organized as well as monitor and record their patients’ progress. They should be aware of all the supplies that are in the treatment facilities and replenish stock whenever required.
People employed as a physical therapy technician work in clean, sterilized environments in hospitals, schools, or clinics. Other places of possible employment include rehabilitation centers, physical therapy centers, and nursing homes. It is important that they have a cheerful attitude because their patients may be depressed due to their condition. Work usually requires around forty hours a week or more, however, part-time positions are also available.
Physical therapy technician employees often have to work with fairly heavy equipment and help their patients lift their limbs, or even carry them at times, so it is recommended that each physical therapy technician keep fit and healthy.
They require physical strength and endurance to carry out their tasks effectively. This is the kind of job opportunity for people who enjoy taking care of other people. To be a successful physical therapy technician, one must be sensitive and empathic to the needs and pains of their patients. They should be perceptive and sensitive as well as detail oriented.
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