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Carrington College Blog

What Does a Physical Therapist Technician Do?

October 26, 2016

Interested in a physical therapy career? Don’t know where to start? If you’re passionate about helping people and making a positive impact on peoples’ lives, then how about becoming a physical therapy aide?

Credit: Robert Kneschke/Shutterstock

A physical therapy aide works under the supervision of a physical therapist and helps patients regain movement and manage pain as they recover from injury or illness. Does that sound like something you’d like to do? Physical Therapy Technicians are tasked with a bunch of different jobs, but before we get into that, the first question to ask yourself is…

Are You Someone to Lean On?

Credit: Tyler Olson/Shutterstock

Working with physical therapy patients and helping them recover from injury or illness takes a real people person. There’s a lot of emotion involved – frustration, depression and anger – that you’ll have to deal with every day as a physical therapy technician. But there are lots of positives too – excitement, accomplishment and joy! You have to be good with people and be happy to be part of a team that helps patients through the ups and downs of their journey.

Speaking of journeys…one task that physical therapy technicians do is help patients move to and from therapy areas, maybe in a wheelchair, or by providing physical support as they walk. You’ll actually be someone for them to lean on!

Are You Organized?

An eye for detail is important and so is the ability to get things done. You’ll check, clean and set up therapy treatment areas and equipment, making sure that everything is neat and ready for the physical therapy team and their patients. You’ll also be asked to clean up after sessions, making sure everything is disinfected and ready for the next patient.

You’ll probably also have a bunch of office duties, like helping with records, taking inventory, ordering supplies, answering phones and scheduling appointments.


Want to Make a Real Difference?

One of the best parts about being a physical therapy technician is actually helping patients’ during their treatment sessions. You might be asked to help patients with therapeutic exercises, doing things like instructing and motivating them, or just looking after them. You’ll always be supervised by a physical therapist, so you’ll have someone to learn from and check in with as you work.

Depending on where you work, you might also be asked to give therapeutic massages or administer ultrasounds. You’ll also be there to help the physical therapist fit orthopedic braces, artificial limbs or supportive devices. One thing is for sure – it’ll never be boring because there’s always something to be done!

Credit: wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock

The biggest thing to think about if you’re considering this career is that physical therapy technicians use their passion for helping people to change lives for the better. By supporting the physical therapist and his/her team and caring for patients, technicians help people of all ages achieve the best possible quality of life after an injury or illness, and that’s a very rewarding feeling.

Where Could You Work?

Credit: Tyler Olson/Shutterstock

The tasks you’ll be asked to do each day will depend on where you work, but these places typically employ physical therapy technicians:

  • Hospitals
  • Outpatient Clinics
  • Nursing Homes

You can learn a little more of what’s expected at each of these places on our Physical Therapy Technology program page.

By the way, if you decide being a physical therapy technician is a career you’d like to learn more about, you should know that ONET OnLine projects that employment of physical therapist aides will grow 14% from 2014 to 2024, which is much faster than the average for all occupations.[1]

Learn more about the Physical Therapy Technology Certificate of Achievement program[2] at Carrington College.


[2] Program availability varies by location

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