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Physical therapist assistants work as part of a team to provide physical therapy services under the direction and supervision of the physical therapist. PTAs work with patients or clients who have conditions such as burns, amputations, stroke, vertigo, low-back pain, arthritis, heart disease, fractures, brain injuries, and cerebral palsy. In addition, PTAs may assist in fitness and wellness programs and participate in teaching and administration. PTAs are employed in a variety of settings, including hospitals, outpatient clinics, sports and fitness facilities, schools, home health agencies, and nursing homes.

The minimum high school units required for admission to the Physical Therapist Assistant program include four secondary units of English, two units of mathematics (including one unit of algebra), two units of science (one unit must be biology), and five units of arts, humanities, social studies, and/or foreign languages.

The Physical Therapist Assistant curriculum combines general education, science, and technical courses. Students develop the knowledge and skills required to provide therapeutic exercise, functional training, soft tissue massage, electrotherapy, ultrasound, and other treatments included in the physical therapy plan of care. The program culminates with a full semester of clinical experience.

The size of each entering class is limited so that optimal clinical experiences and practical application situations can be maintained. Students are admitted into the program only during the fall semester and must progress through the program in the prescribed manner. Clinical affiliations are maintained over a wide geographical area. Students may be required to make special housing and transportation arrangements during the clinical phase. In order to accommodate the clinical practicum, this major requires five semesters to satisfy graduation requirements. For the associate in science degree in Physical Therapist Assistant, a minimum of 68 credits is required.

The Physical Therapist Assistant program at Penn State Fayette is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314; telephone: 703-706-3245; email: accreditation@apta.org; website: www.capteonline.org.