Physical Therapist Aide

Clinical Rehabilitation Aide, Outpatient Therapy Aide, Physical Therapist Aide (PTA)   More Names
Physical Therapist Aides, Physical Therapist Technician (Physical Therapy Tech), Physical Therapy Aide (PTA), Physical Therapy Attendant, Physiotherapy Aide, Rehabilitation Aide, Rehabilitation Attendant, Restorative Aide (RA), Restorative Care Technician, Therapy Aide
Description

Perform assigned and routine tasks under close supervision of the physical therapist (PT) or physical therapist assistant (PTA). Tasks assigned will dependent upon state regulations, facility policies, and physical therapists' preferences. Often transport patients to and from treatment areas using wheelchairs or other equipment.

Physical therapist aides (commonly known also as physical therapy aides)may assist physical therapists (PTs) or physical therapist assistant (PTAs) in securing patients onto therapy equipment and in safeguarding patients doing exercises, walking, and treatment activities. They clean and organize the work area and disinfect equipment after each patient treatment session. They also may assist with some billing and record-keeping.

Physical therapist aides work under the close supervision of one or more physical therapists or physical therapist assistants. They are employed in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, outpatient clinics, and other settings where physical therapy is provided.

Physical therapist aides help PTs and PTAs who are treating patients recovering from auto, home, or workplace accidents or injuries, or who are suffering with disabling conditions such as lower-back pain, arthritis, fractures, head injuries, or cerebral palsy.

Physical therapist aides need to be well organized, detail oriented, and caring. They also need to be able to take directions and work well in teams. They require at least a moderate degree of strength in order to transport patients to and from treatment areas and to lift, transfer, and position them on treatment tables for therapy. In some states, they may also assist the PT or PTA in providing selected components of treatment. They may also assist by providing support and additional safety when the PT or PTA is training a patient in walking.

Before and during treatment sessions, physical therapist aides arrange needed supplies and keep them in proper order. During treatment sessions, they may be asked to write down measurements or observations by the PT or PTA. After sessions end, they clean treatment tables and change pillow cases and ensure the entire treatment room is sanitary and safe for the next patient.

Physical therapist aides are the entry-level first rung on the physical therapy career ladder. With more formal education and training as well as state licensure, they can work to become physical therapist assistants. With considerably more professional training and licensure, they could aspire to one day become a physical therapist. Alternatively, they may choose to cross-train to work as nursing or psychiatric aides, occupational therapy aides, medical assistants, pharmacy aides, or dental assistants - thereby taking a new first step on each of these different career pathways.

Credentials Needed: State licensing is not required to work as a physical therapist aide. There are no voluntary industry-based certifications directly specifically for physical therapy aides, however, they may choose to receive training and credentials in such areas as basic First Aid offered by the Red Cross and CPR lifesaving offered by both the Red Cross and American Heart Association.

Some Key Things to Remember: Physical therapist aides work under the close supervision of a physical therapist or physical therapist assistant and perform only those tasks that are assigned to them. They need to be well organized, detail oriented, and caring. They also need to be able to take directions, work well in teams, and have at least a moderate degree of strength. Physical therapist aides are the entry-level first rung on the physical therapy career ladder.

Preceding written narrative as well as that for the Education & Training narrative section reviewed for content and accuracy by the American Physical Therapy Association, February 14 and September 16, 2012.

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Job Growth and Wages
Percent Job Growth:  
39% - Much faster than average
Typical Wages (National):  
Annual: $21,880 - $30,850    Hourly: $11 - $15
Physical/Medical/Health Requirements

As a physical therapist aide, you may be asked to help move a patient who is immobile from one area to another. Physical therapist aides often stand on their feet for long periods of time and do a lot of kneeling, stooping, bending and lifting, sometimes as much as 50 pounds or more.

Because of the exertion required, it is important that physical therapist aides be in top physical shape. In addition, physical therapist aides occasionally may provide emotional support to nervous patients or those in pain. As a result, they need to be caring and compassionate individuals.

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Legal Requirements
General/Nationwide
State-Specific
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(Data Drawn from O*NET)
 
      

Career Snapshot

Typical Education:

High School or GED (HS)
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Percent Job Growth:

39% - Much faster than average
Find Jobs

Typical Wages:

Annual: $21,880 - $30,850

Hourly: $11 - $15