Physical Therapy Aide Job Description
What does a physical therapy aide’s workday look like?The beginning of a physical therapist’s workday is often spent organizing schedules or confirming appointments. A PT aide’s day is often broken up into segments during which he or she is either supporting direct patient care, or completing administrative duties such as paperwork management, billing activities or distributing communications between therapists and departments. An aide will often need to take several opportunities during the day to re-organize equipment in the therapy department that has been moved around during use.
Rehabilitation departments within both in and outpatient settings operate during day shifts, so a therapy aide will not work
What patient care duties are physical therapy aides responsible for?The level to which physical therapy aides are involved in direct patient care depends on the setting in which they are employed and whether or not a patient’s insurer allows PT aides to provide any direct patient care. In nearly all settings PT aides will have contact with patients for the purposes of transporting them to and from the treatment area as well as when providing a second set of hands for the physical therapist during more challenging treatments.
In some settings, the physical therapy aide job description includes being responsible for setting patients up on therapeutic exercise equipment, and in some cases actually leading exercises or mobility activities. In these situations, nearly all states and insurers require that a physical therapist supervise. In this situation, a physical therapist may be facilitating therapeutic treatment to one patient, while a PT aide helps a second patient perform mobility practice activities or exercises.
Within some hospitals, physical therapy aides also support the occupational therapy department, so the types of treatments that an aide can participate in can be quite varied.
What non-patient duties does a PT aide have?
While the specifics of a PT aide’s responsibilities will depend largely on the setting in which he or she works, there are some activities common among all physical therapy aides:
Scheduling: In an outpatient clinic, treatments are scheduled in advance and a PT aide may be responsible for taking calls and scheduling patient appointments. Inpatient scheduling systems differ, as patients often aren’t scheduled treatment times; however, patients are nearly always assigned to a specific therapist requiring PT aid’s to schedule around therapists’ schedules while still being mindful of patient needs. In both settings, managing the flow of patients through the department, the amount of time necessary for each visit, how much additional time a therapist or assistant will need for documentation and the type of therapy a patient needs is essential.
Administrative support: Documentation is vital to successful outcomes in all treatment settings. While more organizations are implementing paperless systems, many still operate with physical charts and paper documentation. Accurate filing and document handling is essential. A patient’s chart is a legal document and good management of records is a compliance requirement. PT aides often find that managing the department’s documentation is one of the more important tasks they may be responsible for.
Department organization and equipment management: A clean, safe and organized therapy department maximizes the effectiveness of therapy. A physical therapist moving quickly form patient to patient may not have time to sanitize equipment or put supplies away. Likewise, he or she may need help getting the right equipment for the next patient. A PT aide’s job almost always includes support in this area. A good PT aide will know how the department is organized, help maintain good systems for storage and ensure that equipment is clean and supplies are well stocked. Many aides find themselves responsible for the organization of wheelchairs, walkers and other mobility devices that patients may need throughout the therapeutic process.
Learn about physical therapy aide salaries.