Rehabilitate patients under the supervision of a Physical Therapist.
What does a Physical Therapist Assistant do?
Physical therapists create exercises and movements to improve a patient’s range of motion and to alleviate pain. A physical therapist assistant’s job is to help create patients’ individual exercise routines, and record their progress.
You have many of the same responsibilities as a physical therapist but get less schooling. So as a physical therapist assistant, you have to work under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist. You help clients perform the exercises and routines assigned to them, and explain the uses of different devices. This can mean teaching a patient how to use new crutches, or providing the resistance needed for certain strength-gaining exercises (for example, they pull against your weight).
Depending on your experience and the physical therapist you work with, you might even create the routines the patients follow. You can use weights, massages, ultrasounds, or even electrical stimulation to teach muscles the correct way to work and increase their mass.
A big part of this job involves recording the progress of your patients and keeping an eye on whether the assigned exercises are having an effect on them. You periodically perform gait and strength tests to check a patient’s improvement. And throughout the course of treatment, you keep detailed records to share with the physical therapist you work for.