Physical Therapist Assistant FAQ

Southern Illinois University



Physical Therapy Students


What’s the model description of Physical Therapy adopted by the Board of Directors of the American Physical Therapy Association?

A Model Definition of Physical Therapy, developed by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy, and adopted by the Board of Directors of the American Physical Therapy Association in 1993, defined physical therapy as:

Physical therapy means the assessment, evaluation, and treatment and prevention of physical disability, movement dysfunction and pain resulting from injury, disease, disability or other health-related conditions. Physical therapy includes: (1) the performance and interpretation of tests and measurements to assess pathophysiological, pathomechanical, electrophysiologic, ergonomic, and developmental deficits of bodily systems to determine diagnosis, treatment, prognosis and prevention; (2) the planning, administration, and modification of therapeutic interventions that focus on posture, locomotion, strength, endurance, cardiopulmonary function, balance, coordination, joint mobility, flexibility, pain, healing and repair, and functional abilities in daily living skills, including work; and (3) the provision of consultative, educational, research, and other advisory services.

The therapeutic interventions may include, but are not limited to, the use of therapeutic exercise with or without assistive devices, physical agents, electricity, manual procedures such as joint and soft tissue mobilization, neuromuscular reeducation, bronchopulmonary hygiene, and ambulation/gait training.

The Physical Therapist Assistant Program at SIU Carbondale prepares individuals to provide physical therapy services under the supervision of a physical therapist. These services are specified in the plan of care developed by the physical therapist and may include preparing the patient, treatment area, and/or equipment, implementing the treatment program, and modifying the treatment program as outlined in the plan of care.

Who are PTs and PTAs?

Physical therapists (PTs) are health care professionals who diagnose and treat people of all ages who have medical problems or other health-related conditions that limit their abilities to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives. PTs also help prevent conditions associated with loss of mobility through fitness and wellness programs that achieve healthy and active lifestyles. PTs examine individuals and develop plans using treatment techniques that promote the ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability. They provide care in hospitals, clinics, schools, sports facilities, and more. PTs must have a graduate degree from an accredited physical therapy program before taking the national licensure examination. The minimum educational requirement is a master's degree, yet most educational programs now offer the doctor of physical therapy (DPT) degree. Licensure is required in each state in which a physical therapist practices.

Physical Therapist Assistants (PTAs) provide physical therapy services under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist. PTAs help individuals of all ages who are ill, injured or have a health condition that limits their ability to perform daily activities needed for life. PTAs work in variety of settings including hospitals, outpatient centers, home health, schools, work settings, and the sports and fitness arenas. Care provided by a PTA may include teaching patients/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 must complete a two-year associate's degree and are licensed, certified, or registered in most states.

How can I view the Undergraduate Catalog?

Please refer the University Undergraduate Catalogs.

How to apply to the program?

The Physical Therapist Assistant program is a competitive admission program. Those that are applying to SIU should complete the general admission application and select Physical Therapist Assistant as your major. You will then be linked to the program application. 

What are tuition and fee expenses at SIU?

Please refer to the full-time undergraduate student tuition and fees

What extra expenses would a PTA student incur?

Students accepted into the Physical Therapist Assistant program will have some expenses in addition to University tuition, fees, and books. These include the cost of uniforms, appropriate health tests, drug tests, vaccines, criminal background checks, and travel to distant clinical internship sites.

What types of scholarships and financial aid are available?

Physical therapist assistant students have the opportunity to apply for scholarship awards from the Elk's Club as well as for numerous college and university scholarships. These awards are based upon scholarly achievement and the active support of the professional association. Many scholarships are available from the College of Applied Sciences and Arts and Southern Illinois University. Counseling for financial assistance is available at the Office of Financial Aid, Student Services Building, 2nd Floor (618) 453-4334. 

What are the job opportunities and what is the average salary for a PTA?

According to the Advance Salary Surveys, the average salary of PTAs for 2011 was $56,000.

Physical therapist assistants are employed in settings such as hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, out-patient clinics, public schools, and extended care facilities. They are also employed in industrial settings, home health agencies, and sports medicine clinics.

The Physical Therapist Assistant Program assists graduates in finding employment through maintaining a job file, providing addresses to potential employers (only with student approval), and working with the Career Planning and Placement Office.

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