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As the only individual permitted to assist the physical therapist (PT) with selected interventions, the physical therapist assistant (PTA) plays a valuable role in the provision of physical therapist services. As the name indicates, however, the PTA's role is one of support. The PTA carries out the PT's plan of care under the PT's direction and supervision, as defined by law and contained in APTA policies and positions. (See links at

This is the case even when direction and supervision prohibitions might seem unnecessary from a practical standpoint—instances in which patient safety might seem assured. Consider the following scenario.

Wakeup Call

Zaira is the sole PTA at ActiveStyle, a sports physical therapy practice owned by husband-and-wife PTs Jeff and Kate. During nearly 8 years at the clinic, Zaira has earned the respect of the owners; a third PT on staff, Clint; and ActiveStyle's patients and clients for her dedication, attention to detail, and friendly but always professional manner.

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