Physical Therapist Assistants And Aides: Career Opportunities

Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides work with a supervising physical therapist to perform parts of physical therapy procedures and related tasks selected by the supervising PT. Their work involves exercises, massages, electrical stimulation, paraffin baths, hot and cold packs, traction, and ultrasound.

Responsibilityes generally include keeping the treatment area clean and organized and preparing for individual patient’s therapy. Duties may also include some clerical tasks, depending on the size and location of the facility.

Over 100,000 physical therapist assistants and aides are working in the U.S. About 59,000 jobs are for physical therapist assistants, and physical therapist aides hold about 43,000 jobs. Sixty percent of jobs are in hospitals or in offices of physical therapists. Other jobs are in nursing care facilities, physician’s offices, home health care services or outpatient care centers.

While physical therapist aides are trained on the job, physical therapist assistants usually earn an associate degree from an accredited physical therapist assistant program.

There were 238 accredited physical therapist assistant programs in the United States in 2004. Physical therapist assistant programs last two years. They finish with an associate degree. Course work includes algebra, anatomy and physiology, biology, chemistry, and psychology. They may also include anatomy and physiology. Employers typically require physical therapist aides to have a high school diploma.

Not all states require licensure or registration for a physical therapist assistant to practice. The states that require licensure stipulate specific educational and examination criteria. Additional requirements may include certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and other first aid and a minimum number of hours of clinical experience.

Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides must be able to:

give exercises, massages, electrical stimulation, paraffin baths, hot and cold packs, traction, and ultrasound,
report the outcome of each treatment to the physical therapist,
keep the treatment area clean and organized,
prepare the treatment area for each patient’s therapy,
perform some clerical tasks.

Employment for physical therapist assistants and aides is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations. Demand will rise with the increasing number of individuals with disabilities or limited function.

How much do Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides earn?

As of May 2004 average annual earnings of physical therapist assistants were $37,890. The lowest earnings were less than $24,110, and the highest earnings were more than $52,110.

A Day in a Physical Therapist Assistants and Aide’s Life:

On a typical day a physical therapist assistant or aide will:

help with exercises, massages, electrical stimulation, paraffin baths, hot and cold packs, traction, and ultrasound,
lift patients,
record the patient’s responses to treatment,
report the outcome of each treatment to the physical therapist,
keep the treatment area clean and organized,
prepare the room for the next patient’s session,
push the patient in a wheelchair or provide them with a shoulder to lean on,
perform some clerical tasks,
order depleted supplies, answer the phone, and filling out insurance forms and other paperwork.

I hope this article gives you a good idea of what is involved in the career of a Physical Therapist Assistants or Aide. Health care is the largest industry in the world. In the U.S. about 14 million people work in the health care field. More new wage and salary jobs are in health care than in any other industry. (Some figures from Bureau of Labor Statistics.)

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