Free Guide On How To Become A Physiotherapy Assistant
For most of us who have been to a physiotherapists office before, you have probably had a Physiotherapy Assistant help you with your treatment. They were there to help you while you are having your appointment or perhaps provide some education. They play a vital role in extended healthcare.
Due to the variety of tasks they perform and where they work, Physiotherapy Assistants go by a number of names. You may know them as Rehabilitation Aides or Assistants, Physiotherapy Aides or Physiotherapy Assistants. You may find them in physiotherapist offices, sports clinics, hospitals and medical clinics.
So what exactly is a Physiotherapy Assistant?
According to the Ontario Network of Internationally Trained Professionals, Physiotherapy Assistants serve a vital role in assisting Physiotherapists. They say, “A Physiotherapist Assistant (PTA) is a health care worker who helps teach clients to effectively cope with their limitations in movement, daily functioning and activity. A PTA works under the supervision of a licensed physiotherapist. The College of Physiotherapists of Ontario (CPO), the regulatory body, categorizes Physiotherapist Assistants as Support Personnel.”
Most noteworthy, they help and teach patients how to effectively cope and live with their limitations in movement.
How does a Physiotherapy Assistant spend their work day?
Physiotherapy Assistants perform a wide variety of duties and tasks throughout the work day. And, these tasks may vary depending on where it is they are working. Working closely with the registered Physiotherapist they may perform some or all of the list below:
- Provide clinical care for assigned patients
- Educate the patient/family and support to address physical, emotional and self-care needs as assigned
- Give timely and astute information to relevant team members about the patient’s performance
- Participate in program planning
- Implement the components of the treatment plan as directed by the physiotherapist
- Assist with walking, transfers and safe mobility, etc.
- Help the patient with his/her individual cognitive, perceptual and physical programs
- Assist in or conducting group activities / exercise programs
- Monitor and report changes in health status to the supervisor
- Order prescribed assistive or adaptive equipment
- Maintain equipment inventories
Because Physiotherapy Assistants require a lot of knowledge, specialized training is needed.
What kind of education is needed to do the job of a Physiotherapy Assistant?
According to the Ontario Network of Internationally Trained Professionals, Physiotherapy Assistants need specialized training to perform their job. They say:
Though requirements may vary from one employer to another, candidates must always possess one of the following:
- a certificate from a Physiotherapy Assistant Program (most programs are under one year)
- a Physiotherapist Assistant diploma from an accredited institution, or
- equivalent formal training
The following certificates are a must as well:
- First Aid Certificate and
- Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) Certificate
The ability to do handle several tasks at one time (multitasking) and strong communication and interpersonal skills are crucial. Examples of these skills are:
- Ability to perform as a coach/mentor
- Sound critical thinking skills
- Ability to work effectively and collaboratively with physiotherapists
- Good judgement and problem-solving skills
Other common requirements include:
- Ability to meet the physical demands of the position, i.e. substantial walking, standing, lifting, twisting and bending
- Knowledge of equipment, e.g., wheelchair supplies and seating equipment
- Understand the principles of rehabilitation
- Basic Cardiac Life Support (C Level) Heart Saver Plus Canada
- Non-violent crisis intervention training.
- Demonstrated computer skills
- Knowledge of other languages
Because this is a specialized, rewarding career, Physiotherapy Assistants tend to spend about 20 years in this field of work.
Where do Physiotherapy Assistants work?
Physiotherapy Assistants have a variety of options where they can work upon graduation. Due to the training they receive, the role is well suited to multiple areas of healthcare. First of all, it’s important to know what job titles to look for when applying for work.
Physiotherapy Assistants are often referred to:
- Physiotherapist Aide
- Physiotherapy Aide/Assistant
- Physical Therapy Aide/Assistant
- Physiotherapist Assistant
- Physiotherapist Attendant
- Rehabilitation Aide/Assistant
- Restorative Care Aide
- Therapy Assistant
Therefore, now that we know the job titles, there is one major difference to be aware of. The Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators suggests employers use the term “assistant” when some post-secondary studies in the field are required, as well as the term “aide” when the position requires “on-the job training” only.
With that said, let’s look at where to find work upon graduation as a Physiotherapy Assistant. Physiotherapy Assistants work in:
- Medical Clinics
- Recreation Centres
- Rehabilitation Centres
- Retirement and Nursing Homes (also called long-term care facilities)
- Sports and Fitness Centres
How much do Physiotherapy Assistants make?
Lastly, knowing how much a Physiotherapy Assistant is paid is helpful. Like any job there are multiple factors which affect compensation like the employer, experience, level of responsibility and location. Because of the multiple factors, pay for the position may vary. Depending on where you live in Ontario (or end up working), pay can range anywhere from $25,000 to $42,000+ per year with the average full-time salary equal to $30,000 per year (source: payscale.com)
In conclusion, a career as a Physiotherapy Assistant is quite rewarding both financially and personally. While the path to becoming a Physiotherapist is a long one, the path to become a Physiotherapist Assistant is short. Within one year, you can go to school, train for the career, be working and helping people with their recovery.
If you are interested in learning more about the Physiotherapist Assistant program offered at Canadian College of Health, Science & Technology, check out our program.