Jul 20, 2024  
2020-21 College Catalog 
2020-21 College Catalog [ARCHIVED]

Essential Functions of a Physical Therapist Assistant Student


  • Assist patients with mobility, exercise, and ambulation
  • Lift/carry 50 lbs and lift/carry in excess of 50 lbs with assistance when moving/lifting patients and equipment
  • Treat patients in a various spaces and positions including on a floor mat, low mat, chair, raised or lowered hospital bed or mat, and in cramped conditions (i.e. bathroom, corner of a room, between a bed and wall, within parallel bars)
  • Move equipment in a variety of ways including pushing across the floor, pulling out of a space, retrieving from an overhead shelf, and lifting from the floor
  • Adjust equipment dials and nuts/bolts
  • Manually administer CPR


  • Identify normal and abnormal postures and patterns of movement
  • Recognize changes in skin color, soft tissue condition, facial expression/body language, and physical status
  • Read numbers and settings on goniometers, thermometers, manual sphygmomanometers, equipment dials, traction machines, etc.


  • Respond to alarms, emergency signals, and cries for help
  • Respond to verbal communication from patients in a variety of positions (i.e. facing PTA or facing away from PTA), families, and co-workers
  • Measure blood pressure using manual sphygmomanometer


  • Assess pulse rate
  • Detect muscle tone, skin texture, and temperature


  • Distinguish odors that signify health related concerns, continence, and wound condition
  • Detect odors that signal emergencies


  • Effectively communicate in English, both written and verbal
  • Understand written documentation
  • Write in a legible manner
  • Clearly give oral and written directions to patients, families, and co-workers
  • Recognize, interpret and respond to non-verbal behavior of self and others

Professionalism & Behavior

  • Act in the best interest of all patients
  • Respect patients, families and co-workers of all ages, ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds
  • Be prompt and manage busy schedule as needed
  • Demonstrate moral and ethical behavior at all times
  • Present professional appearance and maintain personal hygiene

Critical Thinking

  • Collect and interpret data for decision-making
  • Apply knowledge/education when providing care to patients
  • Follow plan of care established by a physical therapist, and modify as indicated in response to patient changes
  • Understand when there is a critical or emergency situation and react appropriately