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Physical Therapist Assistant Program

Takoma Park/Silver Spring Campus

Physical Requirements/Technical Standards for the PTA 

In the professional courses that are required in the Physical Therapist Assistant Program, as well as in the career, the student will need to have the physical ability to:

  1. lift and move patients, equipment, and accessories;
  2. manipulate treatment equipment and measuring instruments using fine motor skills
  3. hear audible cues and warnings from patients and equipment;
  4. utilize sense of touch in order to provide patient care, palpate anatomical landmarks, position patients, and administer treatments;
  5. utilize sense of vision in order to read instrument dials and computer printouts as well as to distinguish color gradients associated with touch and pressure;
  6. teach patients through use of voice, demonstration, and handouts; and
  7. utilize interpersonal skills to handle patients with physical and/or emotional trauma and to interact with other people in the classroom, lab, or clinical setting in a professional manner.

The Dictionary of Occupational Titles is a US Department of Labor publication that classifies all types of jobs by their demands and requirements.  Below is the listing for the Physical Therapist Assistant reprinted from http://www.occupationalinfo.orq   (accessed June18, 2007).  This information is provided to all students accepted into the  PTA Program at Montgomery College and is intended to help the student prepare for physical, mental, and social aspects of this career.  For additional information, students may also access descriptions of the field from the American Physical Therapy Association website http://www.apta.orq.

Students are encouraged to access the Montgomery College Disability Support Services if documentation and recommendations of accommodations are needed.


Administers physical therapy treatments to patients, working under direction of and as assistant to the PHYSICAL THERAPIST.

Administers active and passive manual therapeutic exercises, therapeutic massage, and heat, light, sound, water, and electrical modality treatments, such as ultrasound, electrical stimulation, ultraviolet, infrared, and hot and cold packs.

Administers traction to relieve neck and back pain, using intermittent and static traction equipment.  Instructs, motivates, and assists patients to learn and improve functional activities, such as pre­ambulation, transfer, ambulation, and daily-living activities.

Observes patients during treatments and compiles and evaluates data on patients' responses to treatments and progress and reports orally or in writing to PHYSICAL THERAPIST.

Fits patients for, adjusts, and trains patients in use and care of orthopedic braces, prostheses, and supportive devices, such as crutches, canes, walkers, and wheelchairs.

Confers with members of physical therapy staff and other health team members, individually and in conference, to exchange, discuss, and evaluate patient information for planning, modifying, and coordinating treatment programs.

Gives orientation to new PHYSICAL THERAPIST ASSISTANTS and directs and gives instructions to PHYSICAL THERAPY AIDES.

Performs clerical duties, such as taking inventory, ordering supplies, answering telephone, taking messages, and filling out forms.

May measure patient's range-of-joint motion, length and girth of body parts, and vital signs to determine effects of specific treatments or to assist PHYSICAL THERAPIST to compile data for patient evaluations.

May monitor treatments administered by PHYSICAL THERAPY AIDES.

In summary, the US Department of Labor classifies the Physical Therapist Assistant as


The above line is a quick reference code utilized by the US Department of Labor (DOL) to quickly identify characteristics of a job.  The components of this code are described below as they relate to the physical therapist assistant.

Strength: M        This code describes the job as one which requires the ability to perform "Medium work" as defined by the US DOL.

M-Medium Work - Exerting 20 to 50 pounds of force occasionally, and/or 10 to 25 pounds of force frequently, and/or greater than negligible up to 10 pounds of force constantly to move objects.  Physical Demand requirements are in excess of those for Light Work.

GED: R4 M3 L4    This code describes the general educational development required of the profession.  In the case of the physical therapist assistant, a reasoning level of "4", a math level of "3", and a language skill level of "4" are required.  The DOL definitions of these terms appear below.

04 LEVEL REASONING DEVELOPMENT: Apply principles of rational systems to solve practical problems and deal with a variety of concrete variables in situations where only limited standardization exists.  Interpret a variety of instructions furnished in written, oral, diagrammatic, or schedule form.

03 MATHEMATICAL DEVELOPMENT: Compute discount, interest, profit and loss; commission, markup, and selling price; ratio and proportion; and percentage. Calculate surfaces, volumes, weights, and measures.  Algebra: Calculate variables and formulas; monomials and polynomials; ratio and proportion variables; and square roots and radicals.  Geometry: Calculate plane and solid figures; circumference, area, and volume.  Understand kinds of angles and properties of pairs of angles.

04 LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT: Reading: Read novels, poems, newspapers, periodicals, journals, manuals, dictionaries, thesauruses, and encyclopedias.  Writing: Prepare business letters, expositions, summaries, and reports, using prescribed format and conforming to all rules of punctuation, grammar, diction, and style.  Speaking: Participate in panel discussions, dramatizations, and debates.  Speak extemporaneously on a variety of subjects.

SVP: 6       This code indicates that up to 2 years of specific vocational preparation are required for this field.

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