The position of physical therapy aide is an entry-level health-care job that requires minimal education and training. PTAs support, move, and lift patients. They educate and train people in rehabilitation techniques, help them use orthopedic devices, and provide therapeutic treatments.

Aides perform a wide array of other duties, as well. They order supplies, maintain equipment, keep work areas clean, and do paperwork. They have additional functions as needed, or as requested by physical therapists and physical therapy assistants.

Most PTAs work in therapists’ offices, clinics, nursing homes, and assisted-living facilities. Some are employed by home health-care agencies and companies. The field of physical therapy is expected to continue expanding at a rapid rate, as an aging population requires more rehabilitation services.

Physical Therapy Aide Job Description

In a rehab clinic, PTAs work under the supervision of physical therapists and their assistants. They provide numerous services in helping those suffering from injuries, illnesses, and disabilities. Assisting patients in moving from room to room, and lifting and positioning them for therapy, are key responsibilities.

PTAs counsel people about pain management and teach them exercises. They provide information and encouragement, lending physical and emotional support. Aides report to senior staff any changes in a patient’s condition or response to treatment.

Helping patients is just part of this multi-tasking position. PTAs also maintain patient records and perform other clerical tasks, and are responsible for equipment and supplies.

The physical therapy aide job description includes:
  • Organize and arrange materials in therapy rooms and other work areas
  • Disinfect and position equipment
  • Prepare patients for therapy sessions
  • Help them move into therapy areas, and lift them onto or into equipment
  • Analyze patients’ responses to therapy
  • Teach exercises and other therapeutic techniques
  • Help patients get dressed and put on devices like braces and splints
  • Train them how to use orthopedic and prosthetic devices
  • Adjust and modify the devices so they fit patients comfortably and function more efficiently
  • Provide massage and ultrasound treatments
  • Monitor patients’ progress and confer with senior staff regarding treatment options
  • Maintain patient records
  • Order supplies, do inventory, complete forms and reports, and perhaps perform receptionist tasks
  • Inspect and maintain medical equipment

Physical Therapy Aide Prerequisites

In addition to juggling multiple duties, PTAs have physically demanding jobs. They must be strong enough to support and lift patients. They also need to be able to move hefty equipment.

Dealing with patients can be stressful and requires excellent communication skills. Compassion and an ability to listen attentively are needed. Patients become angry, frustrated, and depressed. PTAs should be patient and understanding. They sometimes must stand for long periods of time during treatment sessions, and while helping patients with walking or other movement therapy.

Because of the physical nature of the job, there is a risk of injury. Falls and other mishaps occasionally occur. PTAs may come into contact with patients’ contagious diseases, though abiding by safety protocols minimizes the danger.

How to Become a Physical Therapy Aide

In most cases, a college degree is not required to be considered for employment as a physical therapy aide. A high school diploma or general-equivalency degree is necessary. Students considering health-care careers might want to study anatomy, physiology, biology, chemistry, and advanced math in high school.

The job prospects of a PTA can be improved by taking classes in physical therapy and fitness. Community colleges and technical schools offer certificate programs for physical therapy aides. A certificate also may be earned by taking online courses. Having volunteered at a hospital or clinic looks good on a job application.

Physical Therapy Aide Certification

Many clinics and other employers call for PTAs to have certification in first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Certificates from professional organizations and state-issued licenses are not required.

To become a physical therapy assistant, a PTA needs to get some experience, earn an associate’s degree in physical therapy, and obtain certification. Physical therapists must be licensed.

Physical Therapy Aide Salary

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Physical Therapy Aide Job Description Summary

Here is a short recap of the physical therapy aide job description:
  • Perform tasks indirectly related to patient care
  • Work with physical therapy assistants and physiotherapist
  • No formal education required
  • No certification required to practice
  • 40% employment growth by 2022