Online Course to Be a Physical Therapy Assistant: Course Overviews

Some physical therapy assistant associate degree programs are available through combined distance learning and onsite courses. Read on to get an overview of courses required for an online degree in physical therapy assisting.

Program Overview

Online courses in physical therapy assistance generally culminate with an Associate of Applied Science, which gives students the educational qualification necessary to sit for the National Licensing Exam for Physical Therapist Assistants given by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy. Many online physical therapy assistant programs recommend that students complete general education requirements before enrolling in an associate's degree program.

Course Descriptions

Physical therapy assistant courses are administered online through computer-based readings, assignments, video lectures and online classroom discussions. Due to the nature of the training, some classroom laboratory work is required for students to gain hands-on experience.

Intro to Physical Therapy

This course introduces students to basic professional practices and the medical issues inherent in physical therapy work. Students learn about common injuries, therapeutic exercise and functional training.

Clinical and Pathological Physiology

This course teaches human movement and body functions, while training students to understand abnormal functioning and the diseases that can lead to limited or painful movement. The course provides an overview of diseases commonly dealt with in physical therapy.

Gross Anatomy

This course provides students with a basic understanding of the location and function of different parts of the body. As the course relies heavily on laboratory work, it may require more classroom time for students in distance education programs, though the ratio of online work to laboratory work varies from program to program.

Therapeutic Exercise

Therapeutic exercise involves the different ways people can move and train their bodies to overcome an injury or movement-inhibiting illness. This course provides students with the theoretical understanding necessary to plan out and implement various exercise regimens.

Career Information

Physical therapy assistants provide direct care to patients recovering from injuries and illnesses. They provide this care under the direction of physical therapists, performing the day-to-day tasks of helping patients become mobile and self-sufficient again. A physical therapy assistant program may lead to a career as a physical therapy assistant, or it may be used as a stepping-stone to a physical therapist career.

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