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5 Insights of a Physical Therapy Aide’s Workday

What is a Physical Therapy Aide?

There is a plethora of jobs available in the healthcare field for individuals who desire to impact patients’ lives and their road to recovery from illness. When a patient needs to regain strength and/or mobility after an accident or illness, doctors will refer them to physical therapy.

A physical therapist will develop a treatment plan and steps to help patients improve their physical condition.

A physical therapy aide works closely with the physical therapist to implement and execute a tailored treatment plan for the patient.

What Are the Daily Responsibilities?

A physical therapy aide usually works full time in a hospital or outpatient clinic. Their days are constantly evolving based on the needs of each patient. Physical therapy aides will review a patient’s protocol with the physical therapist and set up equipment that will be used during the session.

Aides may spot patients while they complete their exercises and make sure that equipment is set up, torn down, and disinfected in a timely manner between each patient appointment. This could include assisting a patient who is on crutches, helping them relocate from a wheelchair to an exercise station, changing bed sheets, and more.

While a therapy aide refers to the physical therapist for direction throughout the day, an aide’s educational training involves knowledge on various equipment and how to set it up, store it, and use it properly.

After a session is finished, aides will document information from the visit and the patient’s goals and put it in the patient’s record. They will also ensure the patient is scheduled for their next appointment.

Where Do Physical Therapy Aides Work?

The tasks throughout a typical day working as a physical therapy aide change based on the nature of the patient’s situation and goals for the session. The same is true for the environment a physical therapy aide works in.

The two main umbrellas are inpatient and outpatient.

If an aide works in a hospital inpatient setting, their work schedule could include evening hours, weekends, and holidays.

In an outpatient setting, the schedule could require evening hours to accommodate patients who have a day job.

Some of the specific offices a physical therapy aide may choose to work at include the following:

  • Cardiovascular & Pulmonary Clinical Specialist (CCS)
  • Geriatric Clinical Specialist (GCS)
  • Orthopedic Clinical Specialist (OCS)
  • Pediatric Clinical Specialist (PCS)
  • Electrophysiologic Clinical Specialist (ECS)
  • Sports Clinical Specialist (SCS)

What Credentials Are Needed?

A physical therapy aide must complete a diploma course that trains them to work alongside a physical therapist. These programs will provide them with the necessary medical and anatomy terminology, versatile knowledge on the medical equipment and technology used during an exercise session with patients, and office administrative skills for proper documentation, scheduling, and follow-up with patients.

Therapy Aides must also learn the importance of working with a team and the proper medical ethics that encompass HIPPA and overall treatment of patients.

Interacting with Patients (What Soft Skills Are Needed)

Because each day as a physical therapy aide will vary based on patient needs, it is important to be able to adapt to the working environment while ensuring protocols are met. Listed are a few examples of the skills a physical therapy aide should possess and expect to utilize during a typical workday.

Communication: working with a physical therapist and patient requires strong communication skills to make sure protocol is followed to avoid injuries or other hazards. Physical therapy aides should be prepared to ask clarifying questions to understand what the head therapist wants completed during a patient session as well as the goals the patient is seeking to achieve. It also means working with the patient to understand their frustrations, progress, or questions so their needs can be met and their questions answered.

Empathy: each patient will come to a physical therapy session with a different mindset and set of challenges. It is crucial for the therapy aide to provide encouragement and compassion for those on their healing journey. Displaying an understanding attitude and willingness to help can motivate the patient to keep working hard to achieve their goals.

Organization: A physical therapy aide is constantly moving equipment, talking with the head therapist, scheduling patients, and recording medical documentation for patients. This type of work requires good organizational skills to make sure information does not get lost or miscommunicated. In the long run, with proper organizational skills such as color-coded material, alphabetized information, or signs to indicate the condition of equipment will ensure patients are cared for and extra work doesn’t have to be done later to account for an error.

Start Your Education Today

Working as a physical therapy aide is a rewarding job that provides an encouraging and well-organized atmosphere for patients to work towards regaining physical strength. To get started on a diploma course, visit Blackstone’s Physical Therapy Aide Program Outline for more information on pursuing an education that is flexible and affordable for your schedule.