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Online Associate Programs for Aspiring Physical Therapists

Students can find online associate degree programs in allied health and physical therapy assisting. However, a graduate degree program is required to become a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DTP). While many courses in this field are available to take online, hybrid courses, or courses with both an online and traditional classroom component, are most common.

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Online Physical Therapist Assistant Courses

This list describes some of the online courses offered at the associate degree level to aspiring physical therapists or physical therapist assistants.

  • Physical Therapy Overview Course: Students learn about the role physical therapy plays in health care delivery. This course examines the origin and evolution of physical therapy, its fundamental guiding principles and practices and the various areas of specialization. Legal and ethical issues that may arise in physical therapy practice are also covered, along with considerations of diversity and disability.
  • Anatomy and Physiology Course: Students learn about the functions and structures of human bodily systems and individual organs. The effects of aging, major diseases and living habits on the body are also examined.
  • Medical Terminology Course: This course focuses on the vocabulary associated with medicine and human bodily systems, processes, anatomy and pathology. Students gain a basic understanding of how medical terms are derived, including how roots, prefixes and suffixes come together to form words and how breaking down those components help determine meaning.
  • Biomechanics Course: This course focuses on the advanced anatomy, biomechanics and kinesiology pertaining to the musculoskeletal and nervous systems. In addition to healthy functions, common deviations in structure and movement and the resulting pathology are discussed. Students learn the theory behind physical therapy applications while learning to analyze gait and posture, identify anatomical surface landmarks and assess range of motion.
  • Therapeutic Exercise Course: With a focus on treatment techniques for both non-surgical and post-operative patients, this course introduces students to therapies relating to posture and balance, stretching, agility and overall strength and coordination. This course is usually offered as part of the lab component for online students.
  • Clinical Neurology Course: In this course, students learn about the basic anatomy and physiology of the nervous system, as well as disease processes that disrupt normal function. Emphasis is placed on the effects of neurological dysfunction on rehabilitation during physical therapy treatment.
  • Physical Therapy Ethics Course: This course provides a broad overview of ethical and legal considerations related to health care delivery, with a focus on the physical therapy field. Topics of discussion include patient confidentiality, service consent and resource allocation.

Program Information

Aspiring physical therapists (PTs) have several options for training at the associate degree level. Courses in allied health can help prepare a student for a graduate degree program to become a certified physical therapist, while courses in physical therapy assistance (PTA) take only 2 years but cover just the core fundamentals. However, the education and work experience gained from becoming a PTA can give students a leg up should they decide to apply to a graduate program.

For aspiring PTs and PTAs, there are several online study options available at the associate's degree level. They provide basic scientific and therapeutic education, which can help prepare students for future career success.

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