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What Is a Home Health Physical Therapist Assistant and How to Become One

Home Health Physical Therapist Assistant

What Does a Home Health Physical Therapist Assistant Do?

A home health physical therapist assistant (PTA) visits patients at their homes to perform a variety of duties as directed by a physical therapist (PT). As an assistant, you provide direct aid to your patients, such as observing them before, during, and after sessions, providing them with a variety of activities designed to improve their body, taking notes about their progress, and reporting patient progress to the physical therapist. Sometimes the PTA works directly with the PT, while at other times you work independently, only reporting to the therapist when you return to the office. You do not prescribe medicine.

How Can I Become a Home Health Physical Therapist Assistant?

To become a home health physical therapist assistant (PTA), you need to have a number of qualifications, including a degree and certification. All states in the US require PTAs to have an associate’s degree. A PTA degree program should include classroom instruction and practical training. After graduating, you need to pass the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy exam. Depending on your employer, you may need to pass a background check as well. An internship during your education can greatly improve your job prospects.

Are Home Health Physical Therapist Assistants in Demand?

There is very strong demand for physical therapist assistants (PTA) in the current economy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, work for PTAs is projected to grow by 31% in the next decade. This demand is due to the aging population in need of physical therapy solutions for a variety of issues, such as diabetes, obesity, and general mobility issues. Growth is projected to be especially strong for PTAs who work at home health facilities or who can travel to a patient’s home or long-term care facility to provide their services.

What Skills Do I Need to Be a Successful Home Health Physical Therapist Assistant?

Important skills for a home health physical therapist assistant (PTA) include patience, empathy, and a willingness to travel. You should have reliable transportation and a good driving record, as your responsibilities revolve entirely around travel. Flexibility is also an important aspect of the job, as you may be traveling at non-traditional working hours in order to accommodate your patients’ schedules. Rehab can take many months, and you should have good interpersonal skills and verbal communication so that you can connect with your patients and make them feel comfortable as you work with them.