PHYSICAL THERAPIST ASSISTANT
Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA)
Physical therapists and physical therapist assistants (PTAs) under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist are the only providers of physical therapy services. In many practice settings, physical therapists rely on the PTA to assure that all patients/clients have access to physical therapy services. Physical therapy has a long history of returning individuals to their maximum level of physical function and in many cases, patients are being sent to physical therapy instead of surgery. Patients/clients value the individualized, "hands on" approach that characterizes physical therapy care. When a physical therapist sees a patient/client for the first time, he or she examines that individual and develops a plan of care that promotes the ability to move, reduces pain, restores function, and prevents disability. The physical therapist may choose to utilize a PTA in the provision of components of the physical therapy treatment. The physical therapist, PTA, and the patient/client then work side-by-side to make sure that the goals of the plan or care are met.
Depending on the particular needs of a patient/client, physical therapists may direct components of a patient/client's interventions (treatments) to a PTA. PTAs provide a variety of physical therapy techniques as they carry out the physical therapist's plan of care for the patient, including therapeutic exercise, functional training, deep soft tissue massage, and physical modalities such as electrotherapy and ultrasound. PTAs may also assist the physical therapist by working with individuals to prevent loss of mobility by implementing fitness- and wellness-oriented programs for healthier and more active lifestyles.