Image by Anupam Mahapatra

What are Physiotherapist Assistants & Aides/Techs

Often when you go to visit your Physiotherapist, you will find other supporting personnel working alongside them.

      This can either be a Physiotherapist Assistant or a Physiotherapist Tech / Aide. It may seem like the only difference between these two titles is semantics but in reality they play very different roles in how they assist the Physiotherapist. 

 

Physiotherapist assistants (PTAs) generally assist in the treatment of all patients. They must earn an associate’s degree and graduate from an accredited PTA program. They practice under the direction and supervision of a Physiotherapist, and are responsible for tasks like: 

  • Collecting patient data (e.g. range of motion measurements and manual muscle test results)

  • Providing some treatments (e.g. electrotherapeutic and mechanical modalities, gait and transfer training, and therapeutic exercise) 

  • Educating patients about prescribed home exercise programs. 

 

A Physiotherapist Assistant works under the guidance of a Physiotherapist – implementing and modifying the PT’s treatment plan. However, a PTA should never complete an initial evaluation of a patient! This can only be done by a licensed Physiotherapist.

 

      Like PTA’s, Physiotherapy technicians / aides assist a Physiotherapist but do not provide treatment. There are no formal education requirements for this position and PT techs / aides are often trained on the job. They help keep the clinic running smoothly by completing tasks such as: 

  • Cleaning equipment 

  • Preparing treatment areas

  • Helping with clerical duties and paperwork 

 

A Physiotherapy Tech / Aide should not be involved in clinical decision making and should never be found carrying out a patient’s treatment alone. 

 

Although these positions sound similar they are actually very different. Please make sure that you are being treated appropriately by a licensed professional with the necessary skills.

Physiotherapy Techs / Aides