What is PTA?

Check out these video links:

Move Forward: Physical Therapy Brings Motion to Life (APTA)
You Can Be Me - A Career in Physical Therapy (APTA)

What is the difference between a PT and a PTA?

Often prospective students are confused regarding the difference between a physical therapist and a physical therapist assistant. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) describes the PTA and the PT as follows: 

  •  PTA: Physical therapist assistants (PTAs) graduate from universities, community colleges, or technical colleges with an associate's degree after two years of study. PTAs work under the direction of a physical therapist (PT). PTAs' duties can include assisting in instructing patients in exercises and activities of daily living (including physical modalities), using special equipment, collecting data on the patient's progress, and documenting and reporting on the patient's response.
  •  PT: Professional (entry-level) physical therapist education programs are offered at the doctoral degree level. A PTA frequently has a greater degree of hands-on involvement with the patient while the PT is responsible for establishing and monitoring the plan of care. Both enjoy a dynamic career field, providing rehabilitation to clients with orthopedic, neurological, pediatric, and sports-related problems. Employment settings include general hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, home health-care agencies, private practices and other specialized health-care settings.
    • Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) programs: Most DPT programs require students to enter with an undergraduate degree, though some will admit students after three years of undergraduate work, and a few admit students at the freshman level. Students are typically in the professional phase of the program for 3 years.

For additional information about physical therapy, visit the American Physical Therapy Association’s website at www.apta.org or the Choose PT - the APTA's consumer website at https://www.choosept.com/

What is the difference between a PTA and an OTA?

Physical Therapist Assistants and Occupational Therapy Assistants often find themselves working together as a team for the benefit of the patient. This team approach allows the PTA to address the patient’s range of motion, general mobility and strengthening needs while allowing the OTA to address functional abilities and life activities. For example, when working with a patient who has suffered a stroke, the PTA may address wheelchair mobility, sitting posture, the strength and ability to transfer from sitting to standing, standing posture and reaching mobility while standing at the kitchen counter or sink. At the same time, the OTA may address the task of washing dishes or preparing a meal while at the sink or counter, problem-solving the steps necessary for completing the task. While this may not seem like a significant difference to people outside the field, both PTA and OTA educators and professionals recognize that each field has its own unique role to play and personalities that are better suited for one or the other. Both the PTA and OTA program at WSCC recommend that you start your decision making process with observation hours – watch and learn. Prospective therapy students usually find themselves drawn to either PTA or OTA based on their observational experiences.