A physical therapist assistant, or PTA, is a licensed healthcare professional with special training in the field of physical therapy. Physical therapist assistant jobs can be as varied and specialized as a physical therapist position. The PTA, however, is required to have supervision of a physical therapist and is not able to perform such things as initial and discharge evaluations.
Some duties of a physical therapist assistant include aiding physical therapists in providing treatment for individuals with physical disabilities and those who have sustained some sort of injury which impairs their physical mobility. The job of a PTA is to carry out treatment plans, which can range from an exercise program to a pain-relief plan to helping a patient relearn basic skills such as sitting or walking. Educating patients on the use of assistive devices, such as canes, walkers and crutches, is also sometimes necessary. Physical therapist jobs can also involve the creation and use training of things like artificial limbs and braces. They can also help in creating the proper seating arrangement in custom wheelchairs for those individuals who do not have the ability to walk.
Many patients suffer from health incidences like strokes, multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy, and may require assistance to relearn motor skills or prevent muscles from atrophying, or wasting away. Maintaining the body’s flexibility and strength is crucial when working with patients with severe muscle involvement or disuse.
Another avenue to explore when seeking physical therapist assistant jobs is that of sports teams. In this venue, the PTA can assist with injury and mobility recovery. They also can aid in pain reduction related to injury or overuse. The PTA can also help create an exercise routine for maximum training benefits.
Chronic pain is another path when choosing physical therapist assistant jobs. In this position, the PTA uses techniques and modalities for pain relief and/or management. The PTA may use such things as heat/cold therapy, massage, electrical stimulation and ultrasound to help pain symptoms. They also instruct and oversee exercise routines to increase pain-free mobility and flexibility.
Jobs as a PTA can range from schools to hospitals and rehabilitation centers. A PTA can work in private practices of a PT, physician or chiropractor. They can be found in sports clinics, health or fitness centers, or sitting on the side lines at sporting events. PTAs can work with children, adults, the elderly, or the developmentally disabled.