Job Duties in Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is a growing part of the medical industry. Physical therapists are key to recovery for some patients who are recuperating from injuries, illnesses, and surgery. They work with patients to help them regain movement and manage pain, either in a hospital or clinical setting. They are fully licensed to practice therapy and treatment on patients, and doing so often helps patients reclaim their lives, their momentum, and their contentment.

Physical therapy aides and assistants are typically entry-level roles in the field. However, it’s important to note that physical therapy aides and assistants have different responsibilities. The role of an assistant often requires a specific degree and certification or licensure, depending on the state in which you reside. An aide might qualify for employment without a college degree or certification.

The Role of a Physical Therapy Aide

While a physical therapy aide is not a licensed practitioner, they are still a crucial part of a physical therapy team or office and help physical therapists deliver quality care to their patients. They work in the behind the scenes, in hands on projects, and coordinators of all things physical therapy. Any physical therapy office or department runs more smoothly and effectively with an organized physical therapy aide.

The following are regular responsibilities and duties that a physical therapy aide would find any day on the job:

  • Prepare for upcoming therapy sessions by organizing the treatment locations based on the patient’s needs
  • Clean therapy area and set up any needed and necessary equipment
  • Watch the patient’s development during therapy sessions and make notes on how the patient is responding. Therapists and physical therapy assistants use these notes and reports to evaluate the usefulness and helpfulness of specific treatments for patients.
  • Help patients move from one area of therapy to another – aides should have physical strength because they may have to move several immobile patients each day. Aides are there to help patients walk, push them in wheelchairs, or assist in sitting and standing. They are even sometimes responsible for helping to pick them up and move them to another location.
  • Fulfill office and clerical duties, such as ordering supplies, answering phone calls, taking appointments, calling patients, and helping complete and file insurance paperwork

Physical therapy aides are able to work in several areas of the facility or clinic, which is a definite job perk for some people. It is not strictly a clerical role, but does combine clerical responsibilities with some medical oriented and interpersonal and patient tasks. It is a role that requires organizational skills, as well as the ability to be flexible and reliable.

While physical therapy aides are always going to work where physical therapists work, as the physical therapy grows, you can find physical therapists in more and more places and departments of medicine. This creates more opportunities for physical therapy aides. Some places include:

  • Private Clinics
  • Hospitals
  • Nursing Homes
  • Rehabilitation Centers
  • Home Care
  • Orthopedic clinics

The average salary for a physical therapy aide is almost $24,000, while the top ten percent of earners earn close to $35,000. Some deciding factors in salary are experience, as well as size and location of clinic or organization. While working as an aide, someone may choose to continue their education to become a physical therapy assistant or pursue another avenue in the healthcare field to earn more money or widen their knowledge of the medical field.

Being a physical therapy aide can be a fun and flexible career. It offers people the ability to work in a steady job in the medical field without taking any tests or requiring any certification, but offers a lot of on the job training and valuable learning in an office or clinical environment. It is also the important work that helps both patients and doctors in progressing treatment forward and helping to ensure the best care at all levels.

Guide to Physical Therapy Assisting Programs

Kaplan University – Kaplan University is one of the nation’s largest providers of online education. The school has a bachelor program for Health and Wellness as well as Health Science. While these programs will help students in learning many of the credentials needed for physical therapy assisting, on the job training and further education may be required.
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South University – South University offers an AS degree in Physical Therapy Assisting that is designed to be completed in about two years. This program teaches students skills needed to be successful including patient interaction, preparing patients as well as equipment for testing or exams, verifying insurance coverage, filing reports, and ordering supplies. South also offers an AS in Occupational Therapy Assisting and a Doctor of Occupational Therapy
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AT Still University – For students who wish to obtain their education while holding part- or full-time jobs, AT Still University makes that possible by offering an online program for their MS in Physician Assistant Studies. This program is designed for students seeking a career in healthcare and helps prepare them for various positions like Physical Therapy Aide.
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