Physical therapist assistant (PTA) | Stark State College | North Canton, Ohio
Physical therapist assistant (PTA)

Physical therapist assistant (PTA)

Physical therapist assistants work under the supervision of physical therapists to rehabilitate ill or injured persons to the highest possible level of independent living. They also help to educate patients and other people about measures they can take to prevent disability from occurring or becoming worse.

Physical therapist assistants help therapists in testing patients to determine the extent of their capabilities. After the therapist sets goals and plans the treatment program for the patient, assistants may be assigned to perform selected treatments, using a variety of specialized equipment, various forms of heat, cold, light and electricity. Assistants may help patients perform therapeutic exercises to strengthen, stretch or relax muscles, promote circulation or enhance coordination.

Physical therapist assistants help patients learn correct walking procedures and perform everyday activities such as dressing, getting in and out of bed and chairs, using artificial limbs, braces and splints and standing properly. They also teach patients and family members about exercises or other activities to continue at home.

Assistants are responsible for reporting patient reactions to treatment and making suggestions for modifying treatment to their supervising therapist. They also help with documentation of patient progress, perform certain clerical duties and help give on-the-job training to non-licensed personnel working in the physical therapy department.

Upon successful graduation and completion of all didactic, laboratory and clinical requirements of the Program, graduates who are 18 years old or older, become eligible to apply to take licensure examinations. The Ohio Occupational Therapy/Physical Therapy/Athletic Trainers Board must approve all applicants prior to obtaining licensure in the State of Ohio. Graduates must pass the Ohio Jurisprudence Examination and the National Physical Therapy Examination to be eligible to be licensed in Ohio. Licensure is mandatory prior to being able to practice as a physical therapist assistant in Ohio. There are many fees required to be licensed in the State of Ohio as a Physical Therapist Assistant and the student is responsible for those fees.

Prospective students in the physical therapist assistant program (PTAP) must meet specific eligibility criteria as outlined in program prerequisite requirements.


Notice: Recent changes to Ohio Revised Code mandates that the minimal age of 18 is required for a student to participate in Clinical Education or to apply for licensure as a physical therapist assistant.

Background checks

Criminal background checks will be required for all students prior to application to a Health Sciences program. It is a Health Sciences Division policy to refer to various sections of the Ohio Law & Regulations for certification and licensure boards that persons convicted of certain felonies or misdemeanors may wish not to pursue health programs at Stark State College because that person may not be able to take the licensure or certification examinations; may be refused acceptance of placement by the clinical/practicum sites; or may have restrictions placed on their ability to practice. For more information, refer to Ohio Revised Code Section 3701-13-05 or contact the applicable licensure/certification board.

PTA mission/purpose

The mission of the PTAP is to provide a comprehensive education within the scope and practice of the Physical Therapist Assistant, while working within the framework of the philosophy and mission of Stark State College. By utilizing a planned and evaluated curriculum the PTAP will graduate students who will pass the Physical Therapist Assistant licensure examination, meet the need for competent Physical Therapist Assistants, and contribute to the continual upgrading of the practice of Physical Therapy.

Program goals

The goals of the Stark State College (SSC) Physical Therapist Assistant Program (PTAP) are as follows:

  1. The PTAP prepares SSC PTA students to pass the Physical Therapist Assistant national licensure exam and the State of Ohio Jurisprudence Examination.
  2. The PTAP instructs and reinforces the concepts of safe, ethical, and legal practice of physical therapy in accordance with the APTA’s Standards of Ethical Conduct for the Physical Therapist Assistant.
  3. The PTAP fosters and promotes the preferred Physical Therapist/Physical Therapist Assistant relationship.
  4. The PTAP instructs SSC PTA students to recognize when treatment interventions and/or modifications are indicated or contraindicated or are outside the scope of Physical Therapist Assistant practice.
  5. The PTAP instructs SSC PTA students in the implementation of a comprehensive treatment plan developed by a Physical Therapist, which includes interventions and data collection that are within the scope of practice of a Physical Therapist Assistant.
  6. The PTAP teaches and reinforces the use of effective written, oral, and nonverbal communication, with patients, family members, caregivers, and other health care providers.
  7. The PTAP instructs SSC PTA students in the process of patient discharge planning and follow up care.
  8. The PTAP teaches SSC PTA students to recognize and respect individual, cultural, and economic differences.
  9. The PTAP fosters and promotes awareness of the value of lifelong learning, professional growth, and professional involvement.

Program learning outcomes

The Stark State College (SSC) Physical Therapist Assistant Program (PTAP) prepares entry level Physical Therapist Assistants to:

  1. Perform in a safe manner that minimizes risk to patient, self, and others.
  2. Conduct self in a responsible manner.
  3. Interact with others in a respectful manner.
  4. Adhere to ethical standards.
  5. Adhere to legal standards.
  6. Communicate in ways that are congruent with situational needs.
  7. Produce documentation to support the delivery of physical therapy services.
  8. Deliver patient care that demonstrates respect for and sensitivity to individual differences.
  9. Participate in clinical problem solving based on the plan of care established by the physical therapist.
  10. Obtain accurate information by performing selected data collection consistent with the plan of care established by the physical therapist.
  11. Discuss the need for modifications to the plan of care established by the physical therapist.
  12. Perform physical therapy interventions in a technically competent manner.
  13. Manage resources to achieve goals of the clinical setting.

(Adapted from Physical Therapist Assistant Clinical Performance Instrument, APTA, 1998)

PTA student outcomes

Informational links

  • APTA  – American Physical Therapy Association
    An individual membership professional organization representing more than 80,000 member physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students. Considering a career in Physical Therapy?
  • OPTA  – Ohio Physical Therapy Association
    A non-profit professional association representing physical therapists, physical therapist assistants who are licensed in Ohio, and Ohio physical therapist students and physical therapist assistant students.


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