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New York Health Careers

Physical Therapist Assistants

What Do Physical Therapist Assistants Do?

Physical Therapist Assistants (PTAs) work under the direction of a physical therapist (PT) to provide services that relieve pain and improve mobility for patients who are recovering from physical injuries, diseases, or disabilities.

PTAs may assist PTs by performing routine treatments such as helping patients with stretching exercises or using exercise equipment, applying hot or cold packs, administering traction and massage, and training in gait and balance skills. They may also teach patients to use braces and crutches. PTAs may monitor and record treatment responses and report concerns to the supervising physical therapist. They might also have clerical duties, such as ordering supplies or processing insurance forms.

For more information, go to: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physical-therapist-assistants-and-aides.htm.

Where Do Physical Therapist Assistants Work?

The majority of PTA jobs are in physical therapy practices and offices and in hospitals. PTAs may also be found in nursing homes, home health agencies, and rehabilitation centers.

What Do Physical Therapist Assistants Earn?

In 2017, the median annual income for PTAs in New York was $55,170, somewhat lower than the national median annual income of $56,610 for PTAs.

Supply and Demand

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that between 2014 and 2024 employment for PTAs will grow by 40.6% nationwide and by 30.4% in New York during the same time period.

The increasing older adult population in the U.S. will drive growth in the demand for physical therapy services because this age group is staying active in sports and exercise later in life than previous generations did. In addition to various sports- and exercise-related injuries, the active baby boom generation is just entering the prime age for arthritis, heart attacks, and strokes, increasing the demand for physical therapy services and rehabilitation care. Medical and technological developments also permit a greater percentage of trauma and accident victims and newborns with birth defects to survive, creating additional demand for rehabilitative care. Sports-related injuries for people of all ages are also more frequently referred to and improved by physical therapy. These patients often need additional assistance in their treatment, making the roles of PTAs vital.

In addition, PTs are expected to increasingly use PTAs to reduce the cost of services. Once a patient is evaluated and a treatment plan is designed by the PT, the PTA can often provide many parts of the treatment, as directed by the PT.

For more information on projections of PTAs by New York State labor regions, click here.

Education Program Requirements

PTAs must complete a two-year physical therapist assistant program that is registered with New York State or accredited by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). These programs will have coursework in algebra, biology, chemistry, anatomy, physiology and psychology. A supervised clinical work experience is considered essential, and will include CPR and other first aid certifications as well as hands-on and field experience in treatment centers.

New York Licensure Requirements

Most states require PTAs to be licensed. In order to be certified as a PTA in New York, an applicant must successfully complete a PTA education program that is registered with the New York State Education Department or accredited by the APTA. PTAs must also pass the National Physical Therapist Assistant Examination administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy and meet all criteria for licensure in New York, including clinical experience.

For more information on state licensing requirements, go to: http://www.op.nysed.gov/prof/pt/ptlic.htm.

Financial Support

The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) offers scholarships and scholarship information for PTA students. For more information, go to: http://www.apta.org/CurrentStudents/ScholarshipsAwards/

Education Programs in New York

Broome Community College
State University of New York

907 Upper Front St
Binghamton, NY 13905
(607) 778-5000
Genesee Community College
One College Road
Batavia, NY 14020
(585) 582-1226
Herkimer County Community College
100 Reservoir Road
Herkimer, NY 13350
(315) 866-0300
Kingsborough Community College
2001 Oriental Boulevard
Brooklyn, NY 11235-2398
(718) 368-5000
LaGuardia Community College
31-10 Thomson Avenue
Long Island City, NY 11101
(718) 482-7200
Nassau Community College
One Education Drive
Garden City, NY 11530
(516) 572-7501
Niagara County Community College
3111 Saunders Settlement Road
Sanborn, NY 14132
(716) 614-6222
Onondaga Community College
4585 West Seneca Turnpike
Syracuse, NY 13215
(315) 498-2000
Orange County Community College
State University of New York

115 South Street
Middletown, NY 10940
(845) 341-4290
SUNY Canton
State University of New York

34 Cornell Drive
Canton, NY 13617
(315) 386-7011 or (800) 388-7123
Suffolk County Community College
Ammerman Campus
533 College Road
Selden, NY 11784-2899
(631) 451-4110
Villa Maria College of Buffalo
240 Pine Ridge Road
Buffalo, NY 14225
(716) 325-0938

Additional Web Links

For more information about PTAs, go to the American Physical Therapy Association Web site: http://www.apta.org/.

To learn more about physical therapist assistants, check out this video.

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