Introduces the physical therapist assistant student to the field of physical therapy practice, develops basic patient care skills for application in the initial physical therapy clinical experience. The course consists of active lecture sessions, and faculty directed laboratory and clinical sessions. Lecture 1 hour. Laboratory 4 hours in each of 8 weeks. Clinical 4 hours in each of 8 weeks. Total 5 hours per week.


Introduction to Physical Therapist Assisting is designed to prepare the student to administer basic patient care skills, directed by an instructor, which consistently demonstrates safety, compliance with OSHA guidelines and complies with the APTA Standards of Practice and Code for Ethical Conduct. Further, the course prepares the student to identify him/herself appropriately in the role of the physical therapist assistant and guides the student if effective relationships with all members of the health care team.


Prerequisites: Admission into the physical therapist assistant program.

Introduction to Physical Therapist Assisting requires ongoing communication, both verbal and written, with instructors, clients, client families and other members of the health care team. Therefore, the student must be able to demonstrate reading and writing abilities at the ENG 111 level, including accurate spelling and proper sentence structure. Further, the student must be able to comprehend verbal information and must be able to deliver verbal information in a manner which is understood by others, including the hearing impaired client.


Upon completion of this course, the student should be able to:

    A. define the practice of physical therapy in his/her own words

    B. discuss the intended meaning to the APTA definition of physical therapy

    C. identify a minimum of five primary goals of physical therapy practice

    D. differentiate the role of the PTA from other members of the health care team

    E. compare the role of the PTA with the role PT and the PT aide, and assign clients to the appropriate physical therapy provider based upon proper identification of client intervention and proper utilization of personnel resources

    F. distinguish rehabilitation from habilitation and define the members of the rehabilitation team

    G. review the history and philosophy of physical medicine and rehabilitation and discuss its role in health care delivery

    H. describe the structure and function of the American Physical Therapy Association

    I. demonstrate an attitude of respect for health workers at all levels

    J. demonstrate proper use of selected equipment used in basic patient care

    K. select, accurately measure and instruct clients in the proper use of ambulation aids and gait patterns

    L. describe the rationale and principles involved in the use of, and properly perform active, active assisted and passive range of motion exercises

    M. apply the principles of body position and movement to basic patient care

    N. accurately perform, record and interpret vital signs

    O. value, discuss and demonstrate proper body mechanics in all simulated and/or actual patient situations

    P. read, organize and synthesize patient information obtained from chart review

    Q. given a simulated or actual patient treatment situations, demonstrate:

    1. an understanding of the patient diagnosis/condition
    2. concern for the needs of the patient
    3. ability to adapt selected treatment technique for individual patient needs
    4. appropriate safety measures for self and patient
    R. in simulated/actual patient situations, demonstrate effective verbal and nonverbal communication

    S. relate attitudes of professional pride, service and respect to simulated/actual patient situations

    T. use correct medical terminology in oral and written communication

    U. categorize relevant treatment data in SOAP note format

    V. interpret treatment data, guided by an instructor, to formulate an accurate patient assessment


Lectures focus discussions on the definition, philosophy, history and ethics of physical therapy practice, and the roles of the rehabilitation team with emphasis on the duties and inter-relationships of the physical therapist assistant to selected members of the health care team.

Laboratory sessions topics include: principles of patient care, basic body mechanics, patient positioning, and elementary patient skills. The patient skills include: vital signs, range of motion exercises, transfer and transport techniques, ambulation patterns and gait aids and documentation.

In addition to the lecture and laboratory sessions, a medical terminology self-study runs concurrently throughout the semester.

Clinical sessions apply skills and knowledge acquired in lecture and laboratory in actual patient care situations.

EXTRA TOPICS (optional)

A. Therapeutic exercise.

B. Psychological aspects of disability.

C. Managed care.

D. Gross manual muscle testing.

Revised 9/98

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