physical therapy aide working

What does a Physical Therapy Aide do?

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A physical therapy aide works under the direct supervision of a physical therapist or physical therapy assistant. They do tasks that are indirectly related to patient care like cleaning equipment, setting up treatment areas, doing clerical duties, and moving patients who require assistance from one place to another for treatment sessions. Watch a video to learn what a physical therapy aide does.

How to Become a Physical Therapy Aide

A physical therapy aide usually has a high school diploma. An an employer’s would typically provide you with the on-the-job training necessary. The on-the-job training normally lasts up to 1 month. Many employers prefer an applicant to have some computer skills and be compassionate towards ill or injured individuals.

Job Description of a Physical Therapy Aide

physical therapy aide working

A physical therapy aide must work under the direct supervision of a physical therapist or physical therapy assistant. They work indirectly with patient care with responsibilities that would include transporting patients from their rooms to therapy gyms, preparing a patient for therapy, and helping the therapist when asked for assistance. They are expected to keep the treatment area clean and gather equipment when necessary.

They also perform several other tasks such as scheduling treatment sessions, filling out insurance forms, or ordering supplies when needed. They maintain equipment, keep it in working condition, adjust, and/or assemble or disassemble equipment and accessories for patients adaptive equipment or wheelchairs. A physical therapy aide may lift heavy patients and be vulnerable to back injuries without proper protection. They can most often be found working in offices of speech, occupational therapists, physical therapists, audiologists, hospitals, and even in residential and nursing facilities.

Physical Therapy Assistant Career Video

For patients recovering from injuries or illness the work to regain lost abilities or get relief from pain is supported by physical therapists, assistants, and aides. These healthcare workers have the stamina, compassion, and skills to help patients get back on their feet. Working under the supervision of physical therapists, physical therapist (or PT) assistants provide direct care to patients using massage, exercises, and specialized activities such as gait and balance training. They document patients’ progress and report their observations to the physical therapist. To ensure progress is maintained after treatment, PT assistants also educate patients and their families about follow-up.

Physical therapist aides prepare the treatment area for physical therapy, clean and set up equipment, and assist patients moving to and from treatment areas. Aides also order supplies, schedule therapy sessions, and complete insurance forms. Most assistants and aides work in physical therapists’ offices or hospitals. They are in motion much of the day to see patients, set up equipment, and lift and move patients when needed. Physical therapist assistants need an associate’s degree from an accredited program, along with a state license or certification. Aides usually need a high school diploma or equivalent, and can expect to learn clinical skills on the job. PT assistants and aides help bring recovery goals within reach and patients through discouragement, fear, and pain.

Article Citations

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides.

National Center for O*NET Development. 31-2022.00. O*NET OnLine.

The career video is in the public domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.

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