Online Course to Be a Physical Therapy Assistant: Course Overviews

Some physical therapy assistant certificate and associate degree programs are available through combined distance learning and onsite courses. Due to the nature of the training, some on-site laboratory work is required for students to gain hands-on experience.

Essential Information

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 administered 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 degree program. Physical therapy assistant courses are administered online through computer-based readings, assignments, video lectures and online classroom discussions. Graduates can seek careers as physical therapy assistants, or they can continue their education to become certified physical therapists.

Online Physical Therapy Assistant Courses

Below are course descriptions for some commonly offered online physical therapy assistant courses.

  • 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 bodily 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 locations and functions 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.
  • Body Systems Terminology: In this course, students familiarize themselves with the vocabulary used to describe systems of organs, muscles, bones and nerves that run throughout the body, and they learn how to apply these terms in physical therapy practice.

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