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A Day in the Life of a Physical Therapist Assistant
Rachel Cechura
Baker College

A Day in the Life of a Physical Therapist
What is a PTA? What do they do? PTA stands for a physical therapist assistant. What they do is provide physical treatment for individuals who need therapy to become physically healthy again. Of course being that there is an assistant, there has to be an actual physical therapist, which is the PT. The PT is mostly the observer, it tells the PTA what to do, but it does not actually do any of the hands-on work with the patient, which is left for the PTA. Physical therapist assistant’s treat around 10 patients on a daily basis. The patients do not all have the same medical problem, which means the treatment varies from patient to patient.

Aquatic Physical Therapy is the skilled practice of physical therapy in an aquatic environment, so basically physical therapy in water. It is a beneficial form of therapy to help treatment of many different types of medical conditions. Aquatic physical therapy includes treatment, rehabilitation, prevention, health, wellness and fitness of patient/client populations in an aquatic environment. This type of therapy may be used with supportive devices and equipment. Participation in aquatic therapy, the patient improves or maintains balance, coordination, agility, postural stabilization, flexibility, relaxation, muscle strength, and much more. A benefit of doing aquatic therapy is the buoyancy delivered by being submerged in the water. While being in the water the buoyancy helps in supporting the weight of the patient. This decreases the weight put upon the joint, which makes the joints relax and able to take therapy much easier and less painful, making the injury heel faster and easier. Another type of physical therapy is manual therapy. Manual physical therapy is a specialized form of physical therapy delivered with the hands as opposed to a device or machine. The purpose for manual therapy includes relaxation, less pain, and more flexibility. During manual therapy, physical therapists treat the patients with massages. Performing massages on patients applies pressure on the muscles, which eases pain in the soft tissues of the body. Physical therapists also require the patients to do mobilization. Mobilization pushes the out of place bones and joints into place. This can help relax the tight tissues that are around a join, causing it to loosen. It also helps with flexibility and alignment. The most common physical therapy is known as orthopedic therapy. Orthopedic therapy normally takes place in the hospital right after a surgery is performed on a patient. This form of therapy works on the musculoskeletal system which includes tendons, ligaments, joints, and bones. Orthopedic therapy is commonly known to be performed on sports injuries, and many car accident survivors. The methods that are used in this type of therapy are similar to aquatic and manual therapy. Patients undergo massages, whirlpools, flexibility exercises, hot and cold packs, and electrical stimulation. Another common type of physical therapy is pediatric physical therapy. Pediatric therapy mainly treats children under the age of 18. Children fall in this category if they have delays in development, chronic illness, or a birth defect. Performing therapists in this area are expected to be good with children, and have great patience. The main goals of pediatric therapy deal with everyday activities such as sitting, standing, crawling, and walking. Pediatric is one of the most important type of physical therapy because it treats patients at such a young age. It teaches them how to do such important things that will help for the rest of the patients’ lives.

If there is a physical therapy just for children, there has to be one for the elderly, right? Right. This type of therapy is called geriatric, which is specifically focused on older adults. Falling is one of the...
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