Physical Therapist Aide  What They Do

Just the Facts


Under close supervision of a physical therapist or physical therapy assistant, performs only delegated, selected or routine tasks in specific situations. These duties include preparing the patient and the treatment area.

This career is part of the Health Science cluster Therapeutic Services pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Cleans and organizes work area and disinfects equipment after treatment.
  • Instructs, motivates, safeguards, or assists patients practicing exercises or functional activities, under direction of medical staff.
  • Records treatment given and equipment used.
  • Administers active or passive manual therapeutic exercises, therapeutic massage, or heat, light, sound, water, or electrical modality treatments, such as ultrasound.
  • Transports patients to and from treatment areas, using wheelchairs or providing standing support.
  • Changes linens, such as bed sheets and pillow cases.
  • Secures patients into or onto therapy equipment.
  • Schedules patient appointments with physical therapists and coordinates therapists' schedules.
  • Observes patients during treatment to compile and evaluate data on patients' responses and progress and reports to physical therapist.
  • Confers with physical therapy staff or others to discuss and evaluate patient information for planning, modifying, or coordinating treatment.

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Physical Therapist Aides

Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 20 lbs., sometimes up to 50 lbs. You might do a lot of lifting, carrying, pushing or pulling.
  • Work in this occupation involves bending or twisting your body more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves use of protective items such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hearing protection, a hard hat, or personal flotation devices
  • Exposed to disease and infections more than once a month through work such as patient care, laboratory work, and sanitation control
  • Work in this occupation involves using your hands to hold, control, and feel objects more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation requires being inside most of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves making repetitive motions more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves standing more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves walking or running more than one-third of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person

Work Hours and Travel

  • Weekend work

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Occupational Therapy Aide -- Assists occupational therapists with routine tasks.