Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Physical Therapist Assistant?A Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) is a health care provider who works under the direction of a Licensed Physical Therapist to provide rehabilitative or preventative measures to individuals with physical impairments. The PTA uses exercise, heat, cold, electricity and other sources to assist clients in reaching their full potential. Much of the Physical Therapist Assistant’s time is spent helping patients to relearn activities of daily living.
What are the Goals of the KCC PTA Program?At the conclusion of this program of study, the graduate will:
- Maintain professional standards of practice and behavior.
- Practice professional ethics.
- Practice within the limits of the law.
- Participate as a health team member.
- Complement the Physical Therapist in the delivery of Physical Therapy care.
- Teach physical therapy procedures and rationale.
- Communicate professionally in verbal, non-verbal and written formats.
- Apply theory to clinical practice.
- Observe and react to patient responses.
- Perform standardized measurement procedures.
- Apply interventions incorporating the use of physical agents.
- Administer programs of therapeutic exercise and related manual techniques.
- Train patients in adaptive activities and in the use of assistive devices.
- Suggest rehabilitative modifications/adaptations.
- Apply a working knowledge of precautions, indications and contraindications in the application and modification of Physical Therapy interventions within the PT plan of care.
- Provide psychosocial support.
- Contribute to the administration of Physical Therapy service.
- Implement emergency procedures.
- Demonstrate employability skills.
- Undertake independent study for lifelong learning.
In what settings do PTAs work?Physical Therapist Assistants work not only in hospitals, but also in sports-injury clinics, schools, burn units, outpatient clinics, extended care facilities, pools, neonatal units, rehabilitation centers, therapeutic horseback riding facilities and intensive care units. They even may make home visits for those who cannot leave their home to receive services.
What classes make up the PTA’s Associate Degree program?PTAs receive a well-rounded education including English, Social Science and Communication classes as well as the basic science courses such as Anatomy and Physiology and technical courses such as Emergency First Aid. The PTA professional course work involves classes such as: Pathology, the study of diseases; Kinesiology, the study of the musculoskeletal system and how it works together with the nervous system to perform movement; Therapeutic Exercise, using specific exercise protocols to assist the individual to reach full potential after surgery, trauma or a disease process has limited functional skills; and Modalities, using machines and equipment such as ultrasound, electrical stimulation, paraffin, and hot/cold packs to treat symptoms, improve healing or prepare for additional activity in physical therapy. Additionally, there are courses specific to various specialty areas in the field such as pediatrics, neurology, and orthopedics. For additional specific information, click on "PTA Course Information" above in the left hand column.
Do PTA students go into clinical facilities as part of their training?Yes. There are a number of clinical experiences for students as part of their education. Physical Therapists and Physical Therapist Assistants provide supervision right in the physical therapy facility which allows PTA students to work with patients one-on-one. Early in the program students observe and participate in simple procedures. When nearing graduation, students take part in full time clinical assignments where they are given more responsibility and carry out more advanced activities as they prepare for post-graduation employment.
What classes should I take in high school if I am interested in applying to a Physical Therapist Assistant program?If considering physical therapy or any health technology career, you should take Basic Math, Algebra, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics, if possible. All of these will relate to procedures and techniques performed in the field of physical therapy. Also, strong English speaking and writing skills are needed since PTAs must teach patients (both verbally and in written home exercise programs), communicate with other health professionals, and document treatments in written formats.
What is the average salary of a Physical Therapist Assistant?A recent survey of PTA graduates reported an average starting salary range $35,443 to $57,200 with the average of recent graduates to be $41,646. Rates for hourly contract work without full time benefits may go higher.
What career advancements are available for PTAs?There are two levels of formal educational preparation in physical therapy. Current entry level Physical Therapist education requires a Doctorate degree and the required Physical Therapist Assistant education is an Associate Degree. There is only one PT program that recognizes the education of a PTA toward the completion of a degree to become a Physical Therapist. However, a significant number of PTA graduates are accepted into this and other PT programs, becoming Physical Therapists with additional time and study.
Other types of career advancement include increased responsibility for patient care, increased education and experience in one or more specialized areas within physical therapy (such as pediatrics, geriatrics, orthopedics, burn care), additional responsibilities for supervision of students or other personnel, development and/or marketing of new physical therapy programs, quality assurance and other administrative tasks.
How do I get more information on the Physical Therapist Assistant Program at Kellogg Community College?Contact Academic Advising at 269.965.3931 ext 2605 or the Admissions Office at 269.965.4153. To reach the PTA Program Coordinator and faculty, go to Contact Us.