Physical therapy assistants carry out physical therapy activities planned and directed by a physical therapist. During treatment, physical therapy assistants observe patients and report their reactions and progress to the physical therapist. They teach and motivate patients to learn or improve activities such as walking, climbing and daily living tasks. Typical treatments include hot or cold packs, light and ultrasound treatments, massages and exercises. These are used to help heal muscles, nerves, bones and joints. Assistants fit patients for and teach them to use braces, artificial arms and legs or wheelchairs. Physical therapy assistants work in offices of physical therapists, rehabilitation centers and clinics.
Physical therapy assistants must have strength and stamina to help patients stand, turn or walk and to move heavy equipment. They must be licensed by the State. Licensing requires either completion of an associate degree in physical therapy, three years of experience as a physical therapy aide plus some related college coursework, or five years of experience as a physical therapy aide.
Links to Additional Career Information
California Physical Therapy Board (916) 263-2550 www.ptb.ca.gov
American Physical Therapy Association (703) 684-2782 or (800) 999-2782 www.apta.org
Salary/Wage: Click here