As I was searching the Internet this weekend, I typed in "Physical Therapist Assistant." I came across some interesting descriptions of what I do, or at least what the websites think I do. The first site I came to after the search said, and I quote, "Physical therapist assistants work with physical therapists to help patients with exercises and other therapeutic treatments such as bathing, applying hot and cold packs, and massaging."
I have never seen a goal for bathing, nor have I seen a physical therapist put in a plan of care that bathing will be a therapeutic treatment. Perhaps the public still needs more education on what physical therapy is and what we do in different settings.
This second one should cause a stir because every time it is brought up, PTs seems to become irate. It is a description of what a physical therapist assistant does. "You'll be trained to conduct therapeutic exercises, provide therapeutic massage, observe patients and evaluate data on a patient's progress."
Imagine, me, evaluating data on a patient's progress. I think the powers that be forgot to tell this site that a PTA cannot evaluate data on a patient. Maybe they need me to write a description of what we do, although I know some PTs will be there to criticize it and even the state boards may show up again to question me about what I have written.
Lastly, "... the physical therapist assistant may also help by answering phones and doing administrative or clerical work." I think not. If an employer is going to pay me what they do, I doubt they will want me sitting at a desk answering phones or filing paperwork. This is nonproductive time for a therapist and it should be kept to a minimum.
I hope this Vision 2020 thing that the national organization is touting will come quickly and help educate the public about what physical therapy is really all about.