Considering a career in health care? Explore the rewarding world of physical therapy! Physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapist assistants (PTAs) are an important part of the health care team and provide quality care to nearly 1,000,000 patients per day across the United States.
Physical therapist assistants (PTAs) provide physical therapy services under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist. PTAs help people of all ages who have medical problems, or other health-related conditions that limit their ability, to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives. Care provided by a PTA may include teaching patients/clients exercise for mobility, strength and coordination, training for activities such as walking with crutches, canes, or walkers, massage, and the use of physical agents and electrotherapy such as ultrasound and electrical stimulation. Today, physical therapist assistants provide health care services to patients of all ages and health conditions in a variety of settings, including:
- Outpatient clinics or offices
- Inpatient rehabilitation facilities
- Skilled nursing, extended care, or subacute facilities
- Education or research centers
- Industrial, workplace, or other occupational environments
- Fitness centers and sports training facilities
PTAs must complete a 2-year associate's degree program and are licensed, certified, or registered in most states. States requiring licensure, such as Tennessee, stipulate the specific educational and examination criteria.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment is expected to grow much faster than average because of the increasing demand for physical therapy services. Job prospects for physical therapist assistants are expected to be “very good” over the next decade. (U.S. Department of Labor)
Further information about the physical therapist assistant profession can be found at www.apta.org.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos167.htm (visited July 26, 2010).