Career Path Forecast
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau
of Labor Statistics, employment of physical therapist assistants and
aides is expected to grow by 35 percent from 2008 through 2018, much faster
than the average for all occupations.
Changes to restrictions on reimbursement for physical
therapy services by third-party payers will increase patient access to
services and, thus, increase demand. The increasing number of people who
need therapy reflects, in part, the increasing elderly population. The
elderly population is particularly vulnerable to chronic and debilitating
conditions that require therapeutic services. These patients often need
additional assistance in their treatment, making the roles of assistants
and aides vital. In addition, the large baby-boom generation is entering
the prime age for heart attacks and strokes, further increasing the demand
for cardiac and physical rehabilitation.
Medical and technological developments should permit an
increased percentage of trauma victims and newborns with birth defects to
survive, creating added demand for therapy and rehabilitative services.
Physical therapists are expected to increasingly use assistants and aides
to reduce the cost of physical therapy services. Once a patient is
evaluated and a treatment plan is designed by the physical therapist, the
physical therapist assistant can provide many parts of the treatment, as
directed by the therapist.
Opportunities for individuals interested in becoming
physical therapist assistants are expected to be very good; with help from
physical therapist assistants, physical therapists are able to manage more
patients. However, physical therapy aides may face keen competition from
the large pool of qualified individuals. In addition to employment growth,
job openings will result from the need to replace workers who leave the
Job opportunities should be particularly good in acute
hospital, skilled nursing, and orthopedic settings, where the elderly are
most often treated. Job prospects should be especially favorable in rural
areas, as many physical therapists tend to cluster in highly populated
urban and suburban areas.
Note: Some resources in this section are provided by the US
Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor