Physical Therapist Assistants

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Also known as:
Licensed Physical Therapist Assistant, LPTA, Physical Therapy Assistant, Physical Therapy Technician, Physiotherapy Assistant

ABOUT PHYSICAL THERAPIST ASSISTANT CAREERS
Video transcript

Helping people help themselves is the main goal of physical therapy. Working under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist, assistants play an important part in the rehabilitation of accident victims, patients with disabilities, and employees injured on the job. To be successful, an assistant must follow a therapist's orders precisely. Any variance from the therapist's instructions could hurt the patient's chance for recovery.

Because of the humanitarian nature of this job, a genuine interest in caring for others is crucial. An assistant must be capable of encouraging a patient to work hard physically, while providing moral support to lift the patient's spirits emotionally. If you are interested in this position you should be in good physical condition, in order to handle kneeling and standing for long periods of time.

Physical therapy assistants get to work in a variety of settings, ranging from hospitals and outpatient clinics, to sporting events and swimming pools. Wherever the job takes them, it's an emotionally satisfying experience, providing the chance to share in the reward of helping people get better.

SNAPSHOT
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.
Leadership
HIGH
Critical decision making
HIGH
Level of responsibilities
LOW
Job challenge and pressure to meet deadlines
LOW
Dealing and handling conflict
MED
Competition for this position
MED
Communication with others
HIGH
Work closely with team members, clients etc.
HIGH
Comfort of the work setting
HIGH
Exposure to extreme environmental conditions
LOW
Exposure to job hazards
LOW
Physical demands
LOW
Daily tasks

Perform postural drainage, percussions, or vibrations or teach deep breathing exercises to treat respiratory conditions.

Fit patients for orthopedic braces, prostheses, or supportive devices, such as crutches.

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.

Communicate with or instruct caregivers or family members on patient therapeutic activities or treatment plans.

Secure patients into or onto therapy equipment.

Document patient information, such as notes on their progress.

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.

Clean work area and check and store equipment after treatment.

Monitor operation of equipment and record use of equipment and administration of treatment.

Instruct patients in proper body mechanics and in ways to improve functional mobility, such as aquatic exercise.

MAIN ACTIVITIES
Assisting and Caring for Others Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Documenting/Recording Information Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Performing General Physical Activities Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling of materials.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
Performing for or Working Directly with the Public Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
AREAS OF KNOWLEDGE
Customer and Personal Service Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Therapy and Counseling Knowledge of principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance.
English Language Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Education and Training Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Psychology Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
Medicine and Dentistry Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
Computers and Electronics Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
Biology Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
TOP SKILLS
Active Listening Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Monitoring Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Speaking Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Social Perceptiveness Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
Reading Comprehension Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
Service Orientation Actively looking for ways to help people.
Writing Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Active Learning Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.