Physical Therapy - The Path to Recovery and a Rewarding Career
Physical therapy is an extremely fast growing area of healthcare. After patients suffer trauma or disease, they can sometimes face a long road to recovery through physical therapy. With the growing demand for physical therapy, there comes a great demand for physical therapist assistants and physical therapist aides. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, employment of physical therapist assistants and aides is expected to grow much faster than average.
So what are physical therapist assistants and aides? Both assist physical therapists in helping patients improve mobility, relieve pain, and limit permanent physical disabilities. The types of patients may be accident victims or those suffering from lower-pack pain, arthritis, heart disease, head injures, fractures, or cerebral palsy.
Physical therapist assistants are the more qualified of the two professions. Assistants typically earn an associate degree from an accredited physical therapy assistant program. Depending on the state, an assistant may also need to become licensed before practicing. As an assistant, you would be involved in directly assisting a physical therapist with exercises, massages, electrical stimulation, paraffin baths, hot and cold packs, traction, and ultrasound. Physical therapy assistants are often in charge of recording patients' responses to treatment and reporting the outcome to the physical therapist.
Physical therapy aides are sometimes trained on the job or through a short training program. The aides keep treatment areas clean and organized. They may assist in moving patients but are not licensed and do not perform clinical tasks. Depending on the office size, physical therapy aides may perform certain clerical tasks, such as ordering supplies, answering phones, and filling insurance forms and other paperwork.
Both assistants and aides generally work in hospitals or physical therapist offices. A smaller percentage work in nursing care facilities, home healthcare services and outpatient care centers.