Working under the direction of licensed physical therapists, physical therapist assistants (PTAs) collect treatment materials, demonstrate exercises to patients and evaluate patients as they use equipment. Classes for PTAs are offered at many colleges and universities. They are generally part of PTA associate degree programs. Beyond sitting through formal lectures, students will also have to complete clinical training hours as part of the degree program.
During PTA classes, students will get a chance to review the following:
- Patient reporting and assessment procedures
- How to treat disabled patients respectfully
- Collaborating with supervising physical therapists
- Making measurements and using other diagnostic tools
- Patient psychology and neurological disorders
List of Classes
Introduction to Physical Therapy Class
Students discuss the history of physical therapy and current PT treatments, as well as health care ethics. They develop an understanding of the psychosocial effects of injury and illness, rehabilitation philosophies and health care delivery expectations. Additional materials cover PTA-patient relationships, team treatment methods and physical therapist assistant's duties.
Instructors introduce students to human pathology, as well as common ailments and injuries. Assignments require students to examine how physical therapy treatments assist in healing and correcting respiratory, musculoskeletal and circulatory conditions. Other topics of study include genitourinary ailments, gastrointestinal conditions and treatments managed by physical therapist assistants.
Participants discuss theories of biomechanics and human motion science. They review muscle structures, joint functions and exercise principles. Discussions revolve around therapeutic exercise principles, anatomical systems and methods for applying motion science to treatment.
Therapeutic Exercise Class
Students develop the ability to design exercise programs and monitor a patient's performance. They discuss using exercise programs to treat injuries and illnesses. Other topics of study include injury prevention, performance maintenance and conditioning.
This class helps students acquire an understanding of diseases and injuries that affect the musculoskeletal system. By the end of the course, they should be able to recognize symptoms of orthopedic conditions and develop treatment programs for those conditions. Additional materials cover surgical treatment and rehabilitation options, as well as the implications of rehabilitation.
Modalities in Physical Therapy Class
Course assignments will teach students about patient positioning and preparation for physical therapy treatment. Students develop the ability to apply first aid treatment, prepare physical therapy equipment and administer ultrasound treatments. Additional topics might include paraffin baths, ultraviolet treatments and proper application of hot and cold packs.