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Physiotherapy Assistant Duties and Responsibilities

Specific job duties for physiotherapy assistants vary based on their employer and years of experience. However, most physiotherapy assistants perform the following core tasks at work:

Help Patients Perform Specific Exercises Injured patients are often required to exercise a certain area of the body to regain function. This must be done in a supervised environment and with a physiotherapy assistant or physiotherapist.

Educate Patients After an injury, most patients are concerned with recovery. If they are required to undergo physical therapy, a physiotherapy assistant may be responsible for helping them understand the nature of their injury and how to perform exercises at home. The physiotherapy assistant may also answer basic questions from patients and their family members.

Treat Patients Using Massage and Stretching Physiotherapy assistants have a firm understanding of the value of stretching and massages. These practices can help reduce patients' pain level, helping them recover after intense exercises. Massages and stretching exercises may be done under the supervision of a physiotherapist.

Observe and Take Notes Physiotherapy assistants often work closely with injured patients, and they frequently play an integral part in their recovery. During this time, they may take notes regarding the patient's progress, giving these notes to a physiotherapist. The physiotherapist will then decide on the best course of treatment for the injured person.

Perform Clerical Tasks Many physiotherapy assistants serve as assistants to physiotherapists. They may schedule appointments, answer phone calls, take payments, and reply to emails while the office is open.


Physiotherapy Assistant Skills and Qualifications

Physiotherapy assistants should have a passion for helping others and the medical sciences. Most physiotherapy assistants are required to have a license and at least an associate's degree, but other requirements vary by state. Employers tend to seek out physiotherapy assistants with the following skills and qualifications:
  • Clinical experience - physiotherapy assistants have knowledge of basic physiotherapy practices, such as how to treat injured patients in a clinical setting using stretching exercises, hydrotherapy, medical devices, and other practices, and how to apply them in real life
  • First-aid - most physiotherapy assistants know basic life support, CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), and other first aid techniques; since they work closely with injured individuals, they should be prepared to respond if an emergency occurs
  • Computer skills - physiotherapy assistants may be asked to perform clerical tasks; a firm understanding of basic computer concepts, keyboarding, and data entry, plus using the Internet and scheduling software are needed
  • Detail-oriented - like any other medical professionals, physiotherapy assistants should pay close attention to details, especially when assisting patients with their therapy
  • Interpersonal skills - often working with patients who are in pain, frightened, and distraught, physiotherapy assistants should be compassionate, understanding, and active listeners

Physiotherapy Assistant Education and Training

To become a physiotherapy assistant, individuals usually need at least an associate's degree and the proper license. This degree usually takes two years to earn, and students are required to take courses in anatomy, physiology, biology, chemistry, psychology, and kinesiology. No advanced education is required; most physiotherapy assistants receive extensive on-the-job-training under the supervision of a physiotherapist before they are allowed to work alone with patients.

Helpful Resources

If you are ready to become a physiotherapy assistant, the following resources may be able to help you simplify your journey:

American Physical Therapy Association (APT) - The APT is a nationwide organization dedicated to helping individuals learn more about the practice of physical therapy. The site contains a variety of learning resources for individuals interested in becoming physiotherapy assistants, as well as links to other prominent physical therapy associations.

Physical Therapy Career & Salary Guide: Avoid the Income Ceiling & Put Your Career in the FASTLANE - Ideal for anyone interested in the physical therapy field, this book shows readers how to enter the field and advance their careers. Written by Chad Prince MSPT, this book is perfect for anyone who wants to learn more about options as a physiotherapy assistant.

Physical Rehabilitation - Written by Susan B. O'Sullivan and Thomas J. Schmitz, this book certainly lives up to its title. It provides an overview of the physical rehabilitation process and provides readers with an in-depth look at basic concepts.

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