Physical Therapy Assistant (LPTA)
Licensed Physical Therapy Assistants (LPTAs) provide one more level of treatment to help fulfill a patient's recovery needs. A Licensed Physical Therapy Assistant is a paraprofessional health worker who works under the direction and supervision of a licensed physical therapist in evaluating the patient, implementing treatment programs according to the plan of care, and documenting patient treatment and responses. Physical Therapy Assistants also help teach and motivate patients to use crutches, prostheses and wheelchairs to perform daily activities. An Associates degree is required.
Physical Therapist care for all types of patients ranging from accident victims to disabled individuals with conditions such as multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy. Physical Therapists improve mobility, relieve pain and prevent or limit permanent physical disabilities of patients suffering from injuries or diseases. To do so, they evaluate patients' medical history, test and measure their strengths, range of motion and ability to function and develop and implement treatment plans. Physical Therapists also teach and motivate patients to use crutches, prostheses, and wheelchairs to show them how to exercise at home. A Doctorate degree is required.
Behind virtually every athlete who leads a team to victory is a dedicated Athletic Trainer standing on the sidelines. These health care professionals focus on treating athletes to help them with all their physical needs from tennis elbows to sprained ankles. Skilled in all areas of the athletic activity, an Athletic Trainer assists with the evaluation of injuries, emergency care and even rehabilitation. Other responsibilities may include nutritional planning and understanding of the emotional needs of an injured athlete. Employment for an Athletic Trainer may come from hospitals, high schools, colleges, and universities, sports medicine clinics, and many more.
Some accidents and diseases can require more than a short stay in the hospital to get back to a desired level of functioning. Occupational Therapists not only help patients improve basic motor functions and reasoning abilities, they also help them adjust to permanent loss of function (such as people who become paralyzed). The Occupational Therapist's goal is to help patients have independent, productive and satisfying lifestyle. For those with permanent functional disabilities, such as spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy, Occupational Therapists provide such adaptive equipment as wheelchairs, splints, and aids for eating and dressing. They also design or make special equipment needed at home or work. A Masters degree is required.
Though critical to keeping us alive, breathing from one minute to the next isn't something most people think about. As a result of their job requirement, Respiratory Therapists spend time studying this very common activity. Respiratory Therapists evaluate, treat and care for patients with breathing disorders. An Associates degree is required.
Speech/Language Pathologists assess and treat patients with speech, language, voice and fluency disorders. They work with people who cannot make speech sounds or cannot make them clearly, those with speech rhythm and fluency problems like stuttering, people with speech quality problems like inappropriate pitch or harsh voice, and those with problems understanding and producing language. They may also work with people who have oral motor problems that cause eating and swallowing difficulties. In medical facilities, they may work with physicians, social workers, psychologists and other therapists to develop and execute a treatment plan. A Bachelors degree is required.