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What is the difference between a Physical Therapists and a Physical Assistant?

I am currently training for Rehabilitation Technician and I want to know what would be a better choice after I complete my certification. #physical-therapist

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Mr.’s Answer

Laura L,

The Physical Therapist is the professional actively engaged in the discipline and science of medicine dealing with physical therapy. Massage, exercise and heat treatements are apart of their daily responsibilities. The Physical Therapist Assistant assists the physical therapist in supplying items used in the physical therapy. This consists of operating the treadmills, setting up the treatment tables and bringing out the exercise balls as well as setting up the ultrasound machines. The better choice is based on your interests and skills. I wish you the best on your journey.

Thank you comment icon You’re describing a PTA as a rehab tech. The PTA is a licensed healthcare provider able to treat patients under the plan of care of a PT. A rehab tech does not have a license, degree or formal training - they would be helping with equipment, not providing the treatment. PTs and PTAs can supervise PT techs depending on the state practice act. Katrina Faulkner
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Katrina’s Answer

Physical therapist evaluates, assesses and creates the plan of care. A physical therapist assistant can carry out that plan and the Physical Therapist reassesses along the way or can update the plan of care and goals for the patient along the way. As a PTA I can do a lot of treatments PTs can do: adding exercises and stretches, manual therapy like soft tissue work, stretching and other manual techniques that do not involve joint manipulation or dry needles. We can apply modalities such as heat/cold, therapeutic ultrasound, electrical simulation and others if included in the PTs plan of care. If the patient had a fall or major change, the PTA will have the PT assess the changes before continuing treatment. Both are very rewarding careers working with people. PT requires a lot more schooling and typically higher student loans (7-8 years of school). PTAs have less schooling and lower student loans (typically 18 month-2 year program). PTAs always have to work under the plan of care of a PT.
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