Online Career Education to Be a Physical Therapy Assistant

Get info about online physical therapy assistant programs. Read about program requirements, course topics and degree levels, and check out career options.

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Essential Information

An Associate of Applied Science in Physical Therapy Assisting program takes two years to complete. Online physical therapy assistant programs feature online lectures and coursework but still require a hands-on component. Class sizes are usually limited. Students in physical therapy assistant programs prepare for required state exams or certification.

Practical Experience

Online career education to be a physical therapy assistant still requires clinical training, which may be performed at school facilities or arranged near a student's residence. This may be completed either on a regular basis or for approximately one week of intensive lab work per semester.

Course Topics

Anatomy and Physiology

The study of major body systems and organs is usually coupled with a lab component. Coursework includes proper physical function, common pathologies and treatments relevant to physical therapy.

Kinesiology

Students become familiar with motor skills based on the muscular, skeletal and nervous systems. Lessons are based on analytical observation and patient measurements. This course also includes lab work.

Career Fundamentals

This is a foundation course that covers legal and ethical standards, common physical therapy practice workflow and tips for working with patients and physical therapists. Students learn infection control and wound care.

Basic Psychology

Coursework in psychology prepares physical therapy assistants for developing rapport with patients and engaging with them during treatment. Students develop motivational techniques and communication skills.

Rehabilitation

In this class, the types and extent of intervention under guidance of physical therapists is explored. Work focuses on strategies for restoring mobility and easing pain.

Online Learning Details

Internet access and e-mail allow for students and instructors to exchange lessons and coursework online. To participate in some online courses, students may be required to have a web camera and a headset with microphone. In addition, students may be required to secure an approved proctor in order to complete exams.


Career Information

Physical therapy assistants provide support functions for physical therapists, who assist patients suffering mobility or pain issues related to chronic or acute conditions like illness, disability or injury. Under the guidance and direction of physical therapists, physical therapy assistants can perform clerical tasks, set up work areas for physical therapy work and provide limited hands-on assistance to patients.

Physical therapy assistants who have completed their degree and career education online may work within the following:

  • Hospitals
  • Long-term care facilities
  • Nursing homes
  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Home health care agencies
  • Private medical settings

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the growth in physical therapy assistant jobs was expected to be much faster than average, at 41%, from 2014-2024, due in part to the aging of the general population. The median annual salary for these professionals was $55,170 as of May 2015 (www.bls.gov).

Online education for physical therapy assistant studies is available for students, though in-person clinical training is also required. Graduates of these courses can then go on to work in hospitals and long-term care facilities, among others.

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