Physical therapist assistant certification is of utmost importance due to the fact that these practitioners play a vital role in the field of physical therapy. They work under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist to provide treatments for patients and improve their mobility, prevent or lessen physical disabilities and relieve their pain. These patients are often victims of accidents or are suffering from disabling conditions like lower back pain, arthritis, heart disease, cerebral palsy, fractures or head injuries. They help patients to exercise, prepare therapy equipment and teach patients with the use of crutches and other helpful devices for mobility. They are also the ones assigned to apply therapeutic techniques like ultrasound, electrical stimulation, balance and gait training, mechanical traction and massage.

It is also the responsibility of the assistant to record the patient's responses to the administered treatment and report it to the directing physical therapist. Aside from doing clinical tasks, the job of an assistant also include the maintenance of the treatment area, keeping it clean and preparing it for patient therapies. If the patient needs assistance in moving, they can help transport them. In cases where physical therapist assistant certification and license is not attained, the assistant will not be allowed to perform specialized clinical tasks, as these require certification and licensure. They can also be asked to perform various office tasks including the ordering of supplies, answering the phone, filing out insurance forms and other important paperwork. To enter this field you should be naturally caring, well-organized and skilled when offering help and have a desire to help other people.

As the job of a PTA requires bending, kneeling, standing and stooping for long periods of time and help in lifting patients, moderate amount of strength is necessary. Getting a physical therapist assistant certification and becoming a PT assistant working in scrubs requires a high school diploma. However, most PT assistants also have an associated degree from an accredited PT assistant program, as well as training for the job. In case a licensed practitioner is required, an associate degree might be necessary. In the US, there are more than two hundred accredited PT assistant programs, which require two years of completion. Most of these programs include academic course work as well as hands-on clinical trainings. As for the academic portion, this includes anatomy, algebra, physiology, English and psychology. The clinical portion, on the other hand, includes physical therapist assistant certification on first aid and CPR and experience working on PT clinics.

Licensure may not be required at all times. However, there are several states that regulate physical therapist assistant certification and licensure. These states require the practitioner to finish the course from an accredited program and pass the National Physical Therapy Examination. There are some states which may also require passing the state certification exams. Some states further require PT assistants to pursue their education to maintain their license. Practitioners in urbane areas may advance and become physical therapists once they have gained enough experience and completed a program from an accredited PT school. Specialties include geriatrics, pediatrics and specialized skills on neuromuscular, integumentary, cardiopulmonary and musculoskeletal. PT assistants can also advance and aim for an administrative position or pursue a career in teaching for PT assistant programs.

Author's Bio: 

Carol is a physical therapist assistant and co-creator of this popular new web-site: Physical Therapist Assistant.