Becoming a certified physical therapy aide can entail both on-the-job learning and formal schooling. A majority of physical therapy aids are trained by other therapists or senior professionals in the workplace and have at least a high school degree. Others obtain their degree through education, having passed the certification exam given by their state’s Board of Physical Therapy. The majority of physical therapy aides begin their careers as interns.
The job description for a physical therapy aide is quite extensive. In most cases, these individuals are responsible for examining patients, applying therapeutic treatments, documenting progress, ensuring the proper use of therapeutic aids such as weights or wheelchairs, and supervising the care of patients with debilitating illnesses. They are also responsible for accompanying their patients to and from physical therapy appointments and may also travel to other locations where patients needing additional care may be seen. Some aides work solely in hospitals, while others work in clinics and doctor’s offices.
To qualify as a physical therapist aide, individuals must have completed a high school diploma or the equivalent. The individuals must also have a clean criminal record and pass a background test administered by the state they reside in. There are no specific licensing requirements to become a physical therapist aide. However, it is recommended that certification be obtained so that clients will feel confident in their care and ability to provide for their personal needs.
To gain employment as a physical therapy aide, you must complete an approved training program, pass a certification exam, and receive a job offer from a hospital or medical center. Those interested in pursuing a career as a physical therapy aide must first complete an approved on-the-job training program. The program should include both on-the Job Training and a Mentor’s Certification Program. Oftentimes, graduates of on-the Job Training programs will have a strong interest and background in the healthcare field and may be able to supplement their career with an internship or apprenticeship. Students should also complete coursework that includes anatomy, nutrition, and physiology.
Upon graduation, physical therapy aides will need to undergo thorough testing and interviews to determine their suitability for the position. These tests will include, but are not limited to, psychological assessments, physical assessment, functional assessments, and diagnostic procedures. Once the patient has been assessed, the aide will then be given the job of treating the patient. Physical therapist assistants will often work in groups with other therapist assistants, which provides them the opportunity to apply different treatments depending upon the needs of the patients. In some situations, the patient and the helper will work together to address the same problem or issue.
Physical therapist assistants assist physical therapists in a variety of ways. They usually help patients with strength training exercises and stretching. Physical therapy assistants also provide assistance with activities such as massage and exercise, which can help patients regain strength and mobility. Physical therapist assistants also aid in performing patient personal care tasks such bathing, feeding, and exercising the patient. Physical therapist assistants help prevent further injuries by educating patients about the safety and maintaining proper personal hygiene. The career outlook for this field is positive as more physical therapists are required in today’s health care environment.