Duties and responsibilities
A home care physical therapist assistant works under the supervision of a physical therapists who helps treating patients that are suffering from physical disability in a home care environment. These physical disabilities are often due to injury, disease or surgery. Their typical duties and responsibilities include:
- Travelling to patients homes
- Observing patients before, during and after therapy
- Noting the patient’s status and reporting it to a physical therapist
- Helping patients do specific exercises that the physical therapist has put in the plan of care
- Treating patients using a variety of techniques, such as massage and stretching
All states require physical therapist assistants to have an associate’s degree from a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education. These programs typically last about 2 years and include coursework in subjects such as anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology. Assistants also gain hands-on experience during supervised clinical work. Physical therapist assistants will also need to obtain the relevant licensure for their state.
Skills and relevant work experience
As well as having the physical stamina to be on their feet all day, home care physical therapist assistants need skills such as:
- Teamwork skills, as physical therapist assistants need to be able to work as part of a cohesive team with other healthcare professionals
- Dexterity, as home care physical therapist assistants will have to use their hands to provide manual therapy and therapeutic exercises
- Compassion and empathy, as working with those recovering from injury or illness requires a deep understanding of their needs and concerns
- Communication skills, both verbal and written, as home care physical therapist assistants will need to communicate their ideas to patients and keep written documents up to date
Home care physical therapist assistants tend to work full time. However, there are part time work opportunities available. Physical therapist assistants may also have to work nights or weekends to accommodate to their patients schedule. Generally, they will have to spend a lot of time travelling between different home healthcare settings.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for physical therapist assistants was $58,790 in 2019. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $33,450 and the highest 10 percent earned more than $80,840. Home care physical therapist assistants can expect to earn within this region too.
The demand for physical therapy is expected to increase over the coming years, creating a huge demand for physical therapy assistants. To progress further in their career, physical therapist assistants might gather more responsibility and may be in charge of supervising other physical therapist assistants. Or, they may receive less supervision from qualified physical therapists.