Rehabilitation Technician Job Description

Rehabilitation technicians, also known as rehabilitation or physical therapy aides, provide direct support to physical therapists and patients. This can include patient care tasks such as applying therapeutic methods, transporting patients for inpatient or outpatient appointments, and performing administrative and nonclinical tasks such as maintaining patient records, verifying insurance, and handling incoming calls and referrals.

The rehabilitation technician works under direct supervision, particularly when working directly with patients. Additionally, they may handle maintenance and cleaning tasks within a rehabilitation facility, including restocking supplies and cleaning therapeutic equipment. All of these duties help maintain a safe, patient-focused, and efficient rehabilitation center.

 

Rehabilitation Technician Duties and Responsibilities

While the full extent of a rehabilitation technician’s duties can depend upon their facility and level of experience, many of the core responsibilities remain the same:

Support Patient Intake and Assessment

When a patient arrives at a rehabilitation facility, the rehabilitation technician’s first duty is to aid in patient intake and assessment. Under the supervision of a physical therapist or other care provider, the rehabilitation therapist gathers patient information including medical history and the information of other doctors. The rehabilitation technician may also help care providers with tasks related to initial assessment and diagnosis, such as moving patients to an examination room.

Conduct Rehabilitation and Therapeutic Procedures

In many cases, a rehabilitation technician applies therapeutic methods to patients, again under the direct supervision of a licensed therapist. These methods and modalities can include massage, techniques to enhance mobility, and electric stimulation aimed at improving patient function. This aspect of the job can also involve helping physical therapists with complicated processes or procedures or physically supporting patients while they perform activities.

Maintain Patient Records

One of the major administrative responsibilities of the rehabilitation technician is maintaining and updating patient records. A rehabilitation technician may receive a patient’s medical information from a referring physician or hospital and enter it in the rehabilitation center’s system. Additionally, the rehabilitation technician periodically updates the patient’s file to reflect recent changes or report on their progress during the rehabilitation process.

Arrange Patient Transportation

Rehabilitation technicians arrange for patient transportation, both within the facility and to off-site appointments. For on-site appointments and therapy sessions, the rehabilitation technician ensures that the patient is able to physically travel through the facility, usually by arranging for a wheelchair. For outpatient appointments, the rehabilitation technician arranges for a vehicle to pick up and drop off the patient and ensures that the facility provides any necessary accommodations.

Maintain Equipment and Facilities

Finally, rehabilitation technicians maintain therapeutic equipment and ensure that clinical facilities are clean and organized. This can include returning equipment to proper storage areas between uses, removing potentially hazardous materials or debris from patient activity areas, and disposing of soiled materials in accordance with facility procedures and safe handling practices.

 

Rehabilitation Technician Skills and Qualifications

Rehabilitation technicians provide support to patients and physical therapists in a variety of clinical and institutional settings. Most rehabilitation technicians have a high school diploma and the following skills:

  • Patient care – rehabilitation technicians provide support to both physical therapists and patients, so they should be able to interact with and provide assistance to a wide variety of patients
  • Familiarity with therapeutic methods – in many cases, rehabilitation technicians provide one-on-one support to patients under the direct supervision of a physical therapist, so they should be familiar with a range of therapeutic techniques and practices
  • Administrative skills – rehabilitation technicians frequently provide administrative support for physical therapists, which can range from updating patient records to answering phone calls
  • Cleaning and maintenance – rehabilitation technicians are often responsible for cleaning and maintaining equipment and spaces used in therapy, so they should also understand and apply best practices for maintaining clinical equipment
  • Collaboration – in this role, the rehabilitation technician may work with a team of care providers to support patient outcomes, so they should be skilled collaborators and team players
  • Communication skills – rehabilitation technicians should also be effective written and verbal communicators, since they work closely with patients and care providers and need to share patient information

 

Rehabilitation Technician Education and Training

Rehabilitation technicians usually have at least an associate’s degree in a related field but can secure employment with only a high school diploma and relevant experience. Because they provide patient support under the close supervision of a physical therapist or other rehabilitation specialist, rehabilitation technicians do not typically need certification or licensing. There are significant opportunities for on-the-job training in this role as rehabilitation technicians learn the processes and procedures of the job, and many rehabilitation technicians move on to other positions in this field as they gain experience.

 

Rehabilitation Technician Salary and Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), physical therapist aides (including rehabilitation technicians) earn a median annual wage of $25,730. The highest-paid 10 percent of workers in this role earn more than $38,490 per year, while the lowest-paid physical therapist aides earn less than $19,620 annually.

The BLS expects employment in this field to grow at a very rapid pace through 2026, with employment for physical therapist aides growing 29 percent.

 

Helpful Resources

We searched the web and found several resources if you’d like to learn more about starting a career as a rehabilitation technician:

International Association of Rehabilitation Professionals – rehabilitation technicians can join IARP to access career development and networking opportunities as well as events and publications

Careers in Social and Rehabilitation Services – Geraldine Garner explores the roles and responsibilities of rehabilitation professionals, including rehabilitation technicians and aides

JobCorps: Rehabilitation Technician – this government-sponsored site provides a portal for job seekers to find training and career placement programs for rehabilitation technician careers

Rehabilitation Aide Textbook – read this textbook to learn the skills and practices that rehabilitation technicians use on the job every day

 

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