What Does A Physical Therapy Assistant Do?

Working under the supervision of physical therapists, physical therapy assistants (PTAs) provide care to patients who are primarily seeking to become mobile again and be able to do regular activities like walking, running and others. Their main task is to implement certain parts of the plan of care that the physical therapist has outlined so that the client is able to function normally once more, regain physical strength or manage pain after a sickness or injury.

Physical therapists and physical therapy assistants confer with each other regarding a patient’s condition before treatment is initiated. Following the treatment plan outlined by the physical therapists, physical therapy assistants may utilize such methods massage, electrical stimulation, heat and cold treatments, traction and exercises involving balance and coordination to help patients. During the course of treatment, they may measure a patient’s range of motion, strength and other parameters in order to assess his progress. Under the direction of the physical therapist, they may also modify certain interventions so that it suits the client’s comfort level or match the progress he is making under the current care plan.

In addition to using various exercises and therapies to help patients regain the functionality of their movements, PTAs may also utilize crutches, walkers, wheelchairs and other devices to help patients who would not be able to move without assistive equipment. They teach clients how to use their assistive devices especially if this is the first time that they are going to rely on them to get around.

All throughout the therapy sessions, PTAs observe the client and make notes about his progress. Keeping accurate records is an important part of their job because this is where the physical therapist will base his next recommendations on what the succeeding interventions will be employed for the client.

PTAs can work with various kinds of individuals suffering from various conditions and ranging from a variety of age ranges. For example, they can work to rehabilitate seniors who have just suffered stroke as well as with athletes at the peak of their sporting careers who were injured in an intense game. They may also work with those who have just undergone surgery of any body part. For another example, they may help diabetic patients learn to use crutches or a prosthetic leg after one leg has been amputated because of complications brought about by their condition.

Aside from adults, PTAs may also help children. For example, they may work with kids suffering from cerebral palsy. Physical therapy is considered a cornerstone of treatment for children with this condition. The goal of treatment for cerebral palsy sufferers is to help them develop coordination, improve their balance, increase strength, maintain flexibility and make the most of their physical functions so they can become as independent as possible.

Part of the job of PTAs entails informing patients and those who will be taking care of them about the things they should do after the treatment is over so that recovery can continue. Educating patients and family members is the easy part. One of the most difficult and emotionally taxing tasks that PTAs need to do is encouraging patients who have already lost hope that their situation will get better.

For example, athletes who have suffered from injuries may feel frustrated, angry and hopeless that they will ever be able to go back to the game they love because of the severity of their injury. In these situations, PTAs need to be able to empathize with their patients, listen to their fears and try to do their best to encourage them to continue with their therapy.

At the end of the day, PTAs must always do well to remember that the job of physical therapists and physical therapy assistants transcends the restoration and promotion of a client’s physical functions. More than this, it is their responsibility to enable the patient to enjoy life in all its fullness. If an injury has derailed the patient from having a quality of life, it is the task of physical therapists and physical therapy assistants to enable them to live life with zest and vigor once again. By assisting clients and helping them move as independently as possible, physical therapy assistants provide them with the opportunity to do the things that have always made them confident, happy and fulfilled.

Career Spotlight: Physical Therapist Assistant

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