Young PTA working in St. Louis

The role of Physical Therapy Assistants (PTAs) is crucial in the healthcare sector, providing essential support to physical therapists and delivering hands-on care to patients. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of PTAs is projected to grow by 19 percent from 2022 to 2032.

This growth is driven by an aging population, increasing prevalence of chronic conditions and a greater emphasis on rehabilitation and long-term care. As the demand for physical therapy services expands, so too does the need for skilled PTAs across various healthcare settings.

Potential Workplaces and Roles for PTAs

Outpatient Clinics

Role and Responsibilities

Outpatient clinics are among the most common workplaces for PTAs. In these settings, PTAs assist patients who are recovering from injuries, surgeries or managing chronic pain. They work under the supervision of physical therapists to implement treatment plans, which may include exercises, manual therapy and the use of modalities such as ultrasound or electrical stimulation.

Daily Activities

  • Conducting therapeutic exercises with patients.
  • Applying heat, ice or electrical stimulation to manage pain.
  • Educating patients on exercises and activities to perform at home.
  • Documenting patient progress and reporting to supervising physical therapists.


Role and Responsibilities

In hospitals, PTAs are integral to the acute care team, helping patients regain mobility and strength after surgery, illness or injury. This setting often involves working with patients who have complex medical conditions, requiring a high level of adaptability and skill.

Daily Activities

  • Assisting patients with bed mobility and transfers.
  • Implementing early mobilization protocols to prevent complications such as deep vein thrombosis or pneumonia.
  • Educating patients and families on post-discharge care plans.
  • Collaborating with a multidisciplinary team to ensure comprehensive care.

Rehabilitation Centers

Role and Responsibilities

Rehabilitation centers focus on long-term recovery, particularly for patients with severe injuries, neurological conditions or after major surgeries. PTAs in these facilities play a critical role in the patient’s rehabilitation journey, helping foster progress over short or long stays, depending on the patient’s unique needs.

Daily Activities

  • Guiding patients through extensive rehabilitation programs.
  • Using specialized equipment to aid in recovery.
  • Monitoring and adjusting treatment plans based on patient progress.
  • Providing emotional support and encouragement to patients and their families.

Home Health Care

Role and Responsibilities

Home health care allows PTAs to bring their skills directly to patients in their homes. This setting is particularly beneficial for patients who have mobility issues or prefer the comfort of receiving care at home.

Daily Activities

  • Conducting home visits to perform physical therapy exercises.
  • Assessing home environments for safety and recommending modifications.
  • Teaching patients and caregivers exercises and activities to perform independently.
  • Tracking patient progress and coordinating with supervising physical therapists.

Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs)

Role and Responsibilities

In skilled nursing facilities, PTAs assist elderly patients or those with chronic illnesses in maintaining or improving their functional abilities. A physical therapy assistant may also work with patients who are recovering after surgeries, falls or those with chronic conditions that effect mobility.

Daily Activities

  • Helping patients with daily living activities and mobility exercises.
  • Implementing individualized therapy programs to enhance strength and balance.
  • Monitoring and documenting patient progress.
  • Coordinating care with other healthcare professionals within the facility.

The Future Landscape for PTAs

With the projected growth in the demand for PTAs, the future landscape of this profession looks promising. Many factors are contributing to the demand for physical therapy assistants:

  • Aging Population: As the baby boomer generation ages, there is an increasing need for physical therapy services to manage age-related conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis and mobility issues.
  • Chronic Conditions: The rising prevalence of chronic conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases necessitates ongoing physical therapy for symptom management and rehabilitation.
  • Increased Access to Healthcare: With broader access to healthcare services, more people are seeking physical therapy for various conditions, from injury recovery to preventative care.
  • Emphasis on Non-Invasive Treatment: There is a growing preference for non-invasive treatments over surgical interventions, further driving the demand for physical therapy services.

Join the Growing Field of Physical Therapy Assistants

Are you inspired to join this rapidly growing field? Here at the St. Louis College of Health Careers, we offer an exceptional Physical Therapy Assistant program designed to equip you with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed.

Enroll now here on our website or by giving us a call at 866-529-2070.

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