Physical Therapist Assistant
Physical therapist assistants (PTAs) provide physical therapy services under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist. PTAs help people of all ages who have medical problems, or other health-related conditions that limit their ability to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives.
Some of the care provided by a PTA may include teaching patients or clients exercises for mobility, strength and coordination, training for activities such as walking with crutches, canes, or walkers, massage, and the use of physical agents and electrotherapy such as ultrasound and electrical stimulation. PTAs also observe the patient’s abilities and report their observations to the physical therapist. Unlike a physical therapist, the PTA cannot evaluate a patient, update a plan of care, or discharge a patient.
Generally, physical therapist assistants are employed wherever physical therapists work. Hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, home and public health agencies, schools, private physical therapy practices, and the armed forces are major employers. Opportunities in rural Alaska are generally found in hospitals located in the regional centers.
- Graduation from high school with coursework in English, math, and science.
- Graduation from an accredited PTA Associate’s degree program.
- PTA licensure is required by the State of Alaska and most other states. After graduation, candidates must pass a state-administered national exam and be approved by their state’s licensing board.
There are currently no physical therapist assistant programs in Alaska, but plans are in place at UAA to start a program either Fall of 2014 or Spring of 2015. For more information on the Alaska PTA program, please contact:
LeeAnne Carrothers, PT, PhD
Term Assistant Professor
Program Director, Physical Therapist Assistant Program
The nearest current program is in the state of Washington. Three Community Colleges offer a two year program.
For more information, contact:
Green River Community College
12401 SE 320th St.
Auburn, WA 98092-3699
Contact: Byron Ford
Phone: (253) 833-9111 ext. 2641
Web site: http://www.instruction.greenriver.edu/PTA/
Spokane Falls Community College
3410 W. Ft. George Wright Drive
Spokane, WA 99224
Phone: (509) 533-3500
Toll free: (888) 509-7944
Web site: http://www.spokanefalls.edu/TechProf/PhysicalTherapistAsst/Home.aspx
Whatcom Community College
237 West Kellogg Road
Bellingham, WA 98226
Contact: Margaret Anderson, PTA Program Coordinator
Phone: (360) 383-3500
Web site: http://whatcom.ctc.edu/degrees-and-programs/professional-and-tech-degrees/health-care/physical-therapist-assistant/
For a list of accredited physical therapy assistant programs in the United States, visit the American Physical Therapy Association’s website: http://www.apta.org/ (see Education Programs: Accreditation: Accredited and Developing PTA programs). Programs are sorted by state.
Alaska Physical Therapy Association
P.O. Box 140351
Anchorage, AK 99514
Fax: (907) 929-2979
American Physical Therapy Association
1111 North Fairfax Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
Phone: (703) 684-2782
Toll free: (800) 999-2782
Fax: (703) 684-7343
Web site: https://www.apta.org/
This page was last updated by Janice Troyer on July 14, 2013