The physical therapist assistant (PTA) is a member of the healthcare team who implements treatment programs under the direction and supervision of a licensed physical therapist. These treatment programs are concentrated in health promotion, the prevention and/or treatment of physical disabilities. Some duties of the PTA include reading the patient’s chart, transferring the patient, assisting the patient in exercise, gait training, ambulation, applying physical agents such as heat, cold, and electrical stimulation to specific muscles, instructing the patient and caregiver in functional activities, and observing and reporting changes in the patient’s condition to the physical therapist.
PTAs work in settings where physical therapists are employed. These include hospitals, outpatient clinics, private practices, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, school systems, and colleges and universities.