Physical Therapist Assistants (PTA’s) provide physical therapy services under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist. PTA’s help people of all ages who have medical problems, or other health-related conditions that limit their ability to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives. PTA’s work in a variety of settings including hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, home health, nursing homes, schools, sports facilities, and more. PTA’s must complete a 2-year associate's degree and are licensed, certified, or registered in most states. Care provided by a PTA may include teaching patients/clients exercise for mobility, strength and coordination, training for activities such as walking with crutches, canes, or walkers, massage, and the use of physical agents and electrotherapy such as ultrasound and electrical stimulation.
To work as a physical therapist assistant (PTA), an individual must graduate with an associate degree (two years, usually five semesters) from an accredited PTA program at a technical or community college, college, or university. Graduates must pass the national examination for licensing/certification/regulation in most states to be eligible to work. PTA’s work under the direction of a physical therapist (PT). PTA’s duties can include assisting in instructing patients in exercises and activities of daily living (including physical modalities), using special equipment, collecting data on the patient's progress, and documenting and reporting on the patient's response. There are currently 234 PTA programs across the country.