At Cambridge, we often hear from people who are interested in becoming physical therapist assistants but aren’t sure if the job is exactly right for them. Here’s a snapshot of “a day in the life of a physical therapist assistant” to help give you an idea.
Physical therapist assistants provide treatment and services under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist. The physical therapist starts by evaluating the patient to decide which interventions will best help their goals. For example, the physical therapist will recommend interventions to do with a patient who has just had hip surgery, helping them get back to walking. The physical therapist assistant (PTA) then works directly with the patient to treat them and accomplish that goal.
Each day, PTAs help patients conduct exercises to strengthen their muscles and improve their mobility, strength and coordination. As a physical therapist assistant, your treatments might include things like:
- Stretch exercises
- Administering cold packs and hot packs
Working With Many Different Types of Patients
PTAs work in both in-patient settings (like hospitals) and outpatient settings (like rehabilitation clinics). They help patients with a full range of medical conditions, injuries and disabilities. As a PTA, you might help someone who is recovering from a stroke, struggling with dementia or recovering from a broken bone. You might also work with someone who has had a heart attack or who has undergone surgery. You’ll help patients recover – and you’ll get to see them go from struggling with pain to returning to the things they love.
Things You’ll Need to Know As a PTA
As a physical therapy assistant, knowing safety is important. For example, when you administer a hot pack, you’ll need to layer it with towels. Or when you work with someone who is recovering from surgery, you’ll need to take steps to minimize the risk of a fall.
You’ll also need to know how to use equipment – how it works, what it does and the best way to maintain it. Physical therapy assistants help clean and maintain the equipment as part of their daily responsibilities.
PTAs also take notes on the treatments they provide. After you see your patients, you’ll need to record what exercises or other interventions you did, as well as how the patient performed. Good record-keeping is essential so that you and the physical therapist you work with can provide the best care possible.
Get More Information on Becoming a Physical Therapist Assistant
To apply for the Physical Therapy Assistant program, or to learn more about the career, contact an advisor today. We can answer your questions about becoming a PTA.