Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) Profiles

Typical Day of a Physical Therapist Assistant

The physical therapist assistant works closely with a supervising physical therapist to provide quality, evidence-based patient/client care. Once the physical therapist has completed the patient examination and a diagnosis has been determined, the physical therapist designs a plan of care that includes short- and long-term functional goals. The physical therapist may choose to provide all of the interventions (treatment) or utilize a PTA to provide some or all of the interventions identified in the plan of care. Interventions that a PTA may perform includes, but is not limited to, therapeutic exercise, traction, massage, ultrasound, electrotherapy, balance and gait training, motor learning and development, and patient and family education. Interventions will often include the use of assistive and adaptive devices such as crutches, wheelchairs, orthotics, and prosthetics. An important component of patient interventions involves teaching the patient appropriate ways to move or perform particular tasks to prevent further injury and to promote health and wellness.

PTAs also provide the physical therapist with information about the patient's response to treatment, including objective data documented in the patient's medical record. PTAs are trained to respond to emergency situations in the clinical environment.

In addition to patient/client care, PTAs often participate in activities related to billing and coding, quality improvement, risk management, and other administrative activities within the department or facility.

In Their Words

The inspirational "This Is Why" column of PT in Motion spotlights a particular moment or incident that led the writer to a career in physical therapy or reinforced why he or she became a physical therapist or physical therapist assistant. Read the columns or download the podcasts.

'This Is Why' Series 

Other Articles

The following "PTAs Today" columns from APTA's PT in Motion magazine (formerly PT Magazine) illustrate some of the unique career paths taken by PTA members.

Aquatic Physical Therapy: Get Wet (.pdf) 

Sports Medicine Physical Therapy: Sporting Duel Credentials (.pdf) 

Neurologic Physical Therapy: Many Happy Returns (.pdf) 

Working as a Traveling PTA: On the Road Again (.pdf) 

PTA Career Growth and Development: Climbing the Career Ladder (.pdf) 

  • Last Updated: 3/28/2013
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