PT/PTA Teamwork: Models in Delivering Patient Care

Physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapist assistants (PTAs) have been working together to provide physical therapy services to patient/clients since 1969. Although APTA has a number of policies and position that describe the scope of work of the PTA and the level of supervision that the PT should provide, state practice acts are inconsistent in their rules and regulations regarding role, scope of work, and supervision for both the PTA and the physical therapy aide, an untrained worker in the physical therapy clinic. Payers, too, are inconsistent in their regulations about PTA provision of physical therapy services and supervision.

APTA developed patient care delivery models to bring to life its policies and positions in a scenario format. The models are intended to: (1) guide physical therapists and physical therapist students in appropriate direction and supervision of supportive personnel; and (2) provide PTAs examples of their roles in patient/client interventions. The models are not intended to replace or usurp regulatory, payer, or facility policies and procedures.

Two items of note: (1) These are "living" documents that will be revised in response to changes in the health care environment and APTA positions. (2) These models cannot possibly address all clinical situations, and a list of essential resources is included at the end of this document.

Questions and updates should be sent to or