What do Physical Therapist Assistants do?

Assist physical therapists in providing physical therapy treatments and procedures. May, in accordance with State laws, assist in the development of treatment plans, carry out routine functions, document the progress of treatment, and modify specific treatments in accordance with patient status and within the scope of treatment plans established by a physical therapist. Generally requires formal training.

  • Instruct, motivate, safeguard, and assist patients as they practice exercises or functional activities.
  • Observe patients during treatments to compile and evaluate data on their responses and progress and provide results to physical therapist in person or through progress notes.
  • Confer with physical therapy staff or others to discuss and evaluate patient information for planning, modifying, or coordinating treatment.
  • Transport patients to and from treatment areas, lifting and transferring them according to positioning requirements.
  • Secure patients into or onto therapy equipment.
  • Administer active or passive manual therapeutic exercises, therapeutic massage, aquatic physical therapy, or heat, light, sound, or electrical modality treatments, such as ultrasound.
  • Communicate with or instruct caregivers or family members on patient therapeutic activities or treatment plans.
  • Measure patients' range-of-joint motion, body parts, or vital signs to determine effects of treatments or for patient evaluations.
  • Monitor operation of equipment and record use of equipment and administration of treatment.
  • Fit patients for orthopedic braces, prostheses, or supportive devices, such as crutches.
  • Train patients in the use of orthopedic braces, prostheses, or supportive devices.
  • Clean work area and check and store equipment after treatment.
  • Assist patients to dress, undress, or put on and remove supportive devices, such as braces, splints, or slings.
  • Attend or conduct continuing education courses, seminars, or in-service activities.
  • Perform clerical duties, such as taking inventory, ordering supplies, answering telephone, taking messages, or filling out forms.
  • Prepare treatment areas and electrotherapy equipment for use by physiotherapists.
  • Administer traction to relieve neck or back pain, using intermittent or static traction equipment.
  • Perform postural drainage, percussions, or vibrations or teach deep breathing exercises to treat respiratory conditions.

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Necessary Skills

  • Reading Comprehension
  • Service Orientation
  • Speaking
  • Social Perceptiveness
  • Monitoring
  • Active Listening
  • Critical Thinking