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?
According to the 2019 BLS, the average salary for full time physical therapy assistants nationwide was $58,520, varying by specialty and geographic region. Average annual salary also varies greatly across New York State, depending on location. The NYSDOL reports that physical therapy assistants in New York also earned an average annual salary of $54,870, (entry level-$29,930, experienced- $78,040).
Supply and Demand
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that between 2016 and 2026 employment for PTAs will grow by 31.0% nationwide and by 34.0% 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, (2014-2024), 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.
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
| Bryant & Stratton College
953 James Street
Syracuse, NY 13203
|Bryant & Stratton College
180 Redtail Rd
Orchard Park, NY 14127
|Broome Community College
907 Upper Front St
Binghamton, NY 13905
|Genesee Community College
One College Road
Batavia, NY 14020
|Herkimer County Community College
100 Reservoir Road
Herkimer, NY 13350
|Kingsborough Community College
2001 Oriental Boulevard
Brooklyn, NY 11235-2398
|LaGuardia Community College
31-10 Thomson Avenue
Long Island City, NY 11101
|Nassau Community College
One Education Drive
Garden City, NY 11530
|Niagara County Community College
3111 Saunders Settlement Road
Sanborn, NY 14132
|Onondaga Community College
4585 West Seneca Turnpike
Syracuse, NY 13215
|Orange County Community College
115 South Street
Middletown, NY 10940
34 Cornell Drive
Canton, NY 13617
|Suffolk County Community College
533 College Road
Selden, NY 11784-2899
|Villa Maria College of Buffalo
240 Pine Ridge Road
Buffalo, NY 14225
Additional Web Links
For more information about PTAs, go to the American Physical Therapy Association Web site: http://www.apta.org/.
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To learn more about physical therapist assistants, check out this video.