therapist assistants help physical therapists to provide treatment that
improves patient mobility, relieves pain, and prevents or lessens
physical disabilities of patients.
A physical therapist might ask an assistant to help patients
exercise or learn to use crutches, for example, or an aide to gather and
prepare therapy equipment.
Patients include accident victims and
individuals with disabling conditions such as lower-back pain,
arthritis, heart disease, fractures, head injuries, and cerebral palsy.
Physical therapist assistants perform a variety of tasks. Under the
direction and supervision of physical therapists, they provide part of a
patient's treatment. This might involve exercises, massages, electrical
stimulation, paraffin baths, hot and cold packs, traction, and
ultrasound. Physical therapist assistants record the patient's responses
to treatment and report the outcome of each treatment to the physical
The extent to which an assistant performs clerical tasks depends on
the size and location of the facility.
Note: Some resources in this section are provided by the US Department
of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.