Physiotherapy Assistant Program Outline & Career Information

Students in the Physiotherapy Assistant program receive comprehensive training both in a classroom and clinical setting. PTA’s as they are often called, provide physical therapy treatments to patients under the direction of and as assistants to a Physiotherapist. Work settings include hospitals, physiotherapy clinics and rehabilitation centers. Others include long-term care facilities, sports medicine clinics, community health care agencies, and other medical settings. Their duties may require them to administer active and passive manual therapeutic exercises and modality treatments.

Program Length

  • Theory Length – 36 weeks
  • Internship Length – 7 weeks
  • Total Length – 43 weeks

Introduction to Rehabilitation, The Healthcare Systems and Ethics

Students are introduced to the field of rehabilitation within the Canadian Health Care Systems. Topics include a comparison of the medical model, the rehabilitation model, and the client-centered model of patient care. In addition, severity and types of disability, rehabilitation, team members and their roles. In addition, rehabilitation principles and goals, the health care system, social services and funding services. Further topics include the therapeutic relationship, the code of ethics; and moral dilemmas of the health care setting such as patient rights, dilemmas of life and death, allocation of healthcare resources, and special dilemmas of healthcare professionals.

Interpersonal Skills, Communication, Problem Solving and Client Services

This module teaches effective interpersonal communication skills for managing personal and work relationships, for gaining voluntary compliance and for managing conflicts within a multicultural society. In addition, a solid review of English grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure is included with various exercises to help improve written communication.

Introduction to Computers, Applications and Keyboarding

Computer courses provide students with a solid understanding of computer hardware and software components. Students operate microcomputers independently, organize related files and folders, produce professional looking documents, send and manage e-mail, and use the internet to research information. Overall, this helps students who do not type to develop correct typing techniques through the use of lecture and typing tutor software.

Medical Terminology, Body Systems, and Disease

Medical terminology provides physiotherapy assistant students with a basic knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of body systems and their associated disorders. Topics covered include terminology, the 24 hour clock, normal body system structure and function, recognition of various homeostatic imbalances, common diseases and disorders. In addition, an introduction to selected medical specialties such as pharmacology, oncology, radiology, nuclear medicine and psychiatry.

Basic Patient Care Techniques, Functional Movement and Rehabilitation

The basic knowledge and skills taught allow students to interact safely and effectively with a variety of clients in situation. There are categorized by (1) functional movement and (2) rehabilitation. Topics include infection control, safe body mechanics, functional movement, posture and gait. In addition, basic exercise and mobility techniques, safe transfer techniques, safe and effective use of various types of ambulatory aids and  patient observation skills. Futhermore, procedures for reporting and documentation and therapeutic skills such as palpation, range of motion, application will be covered.

Developmental Psychology and Functional Development Across the Lifespan

This subject introduces students to developmental psychology, human development and how aging can affect the client base. Physiotherapist Assistants must be familiar with the changes that occur in “normal” aging and with those that are pathological in nature. This is especially important as they relate to the Physiotherapy Process. As a result, student learn how to interact effectively with patients taking into account the therapeutic use of self, how to respond to systems and behaviors, and safety techniques.

PTA Administration and Program Support

Administration allows students to perform administrative functions within the clinical environment. Topics covered include office administrative skills such as telephone and reception skills, appointment scheduling, and filing. In addition, correspondence and mail processing, photocopying, equipment and supply maintenance and how to assist with meetings. Workload measurement statistics are also covered.

Essential Skills for PTA – Musculoskeletal

This course introduces students to a wide range of common musculoskeletal conditions that PTAs encounter in daily practice. This includes those resulting from trauma, disease, illness, genetics, aging and the environment and the treatment/management for each. Furthermore, students develop basic skills in carrying out exercise programs, bandaging, applying splints, and immobilizers. In addition, assisting with ambulatory aids, setting up slings, pulleys, weights, exercise bikes, treadmills and recording and reporting information.

Essential Skills for PTA – Modalities and Physical Agents

Here students will be taught how to assist with setting up, carrying out, and completing patient treatment procedures using a variety of modalities, equipment and Electrotherapeutic modalities. Emphasis is placed on safety issues, precautions, side effects, contraindications, hazards and dangers of equipment. It is highly important to follow through on reporting observations to the supervising physiotherapist. Principles of equipment maintenance and care are also covered.

Essential Skills for PTA – Cardiac, Neurological, Respiratory, and Wound Management

Overall, the focus of this course is to provide students with the knowledge and skills required to assist clients/patients with neurological, cardiovascular and/or respiratory problems. Topics include GMF, motor control, postural control and balance. In addition, cognitive/sensory stimulation, vital signs, auscultation, bed exercises, breathing exercises, and postural drainage techniques. Furthermore, ROM and mobility activities, which includes precautions and contraindications. Students also develop an awareness of the role and boundaries for PTAs when interacting with neurologically impaired patients. Lastly, basic wound care and specialized interventions are also covered in this section.

Introduction to Mental Health, Illness and Disability

This course introduces students to mental health/illness and their role in assisting occupational therapist and physiotherapist in the Management of common mental health and psychosocial disabling conditions. Students become familiar with the history and theory of medical and psychological models of mental health and illness, mental health/illness treatment settings and service provision, common mental health and psychosocial disabling conditions, psychotherapeutic medications, an overview of occupational therapy process used in the treatment of clinical conditions commonly seen in the psychiatric setting, health maintenance in the area of mental health, and how to effectively interact with clients having a psychiatric disability.

Introduction to Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy provides students with an introduction to the field with a specific focus on Occupational Therapy Assistants and their role in the clinical practice, particularly as it applies to physical dysfunction practice. Topics covered include history and theory related to occupational therapy, the role of the Occupational Therapist Assistant, the Occupational Therapy process, and Occupational Therapy evaluation methods, broad aspects of treatment, and selected treatment interventions and treatment applications.

Go back to the Physiotherapist Assistant Program page

Request More Information