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Stay in the Game with a Physical Therapist Assistant Degree

Posted by Shannon Struby, PTA, MA Monday, Sep. 26, 2016

Physical Therapist Assistant Helping AthleteA physical therapist assistant degree is the perfect fit for student athletes.

Very few people will have the opportunity to play professional sports. For most, that means the world of athletics ends at the high school or collegiate level.

A PTA Associate’s degree, however, enables you to remain a part of that world for decades to come. You regularly interact with people of all shapes and sizes, even fellow athletes, to help them recover from whatever injuries they’ve sustained.

Looking for a rewarding career? Then you ought to give PTA some careful thought.

It Keeps You Active

As a PTA, you’ll never be lacking for exercise.

If you’re looking for a job where you sit at a desk from 9 to 5, this really isn’t the profession for you. On a daily basis, you’re up and active in an office and out in the field, assisting patients with their therapy regimen. That’s not something you can do from behind a desk. You’re on your feet constantly, demonstrating the proper motions and working right alongside your patients to help them get back to optimum physical condition.

When a patient falls, you’re there to catch them. When they struggle, you provide words of encouragement to help them carry on.

We’ve talked before about the difference between a Physical Therapist Assistant and a Physical Therapist, and this is where that difference is most stark. It’s the PTA who works regularly with the patients through his or her exercise routine, not necessarily the PT, so you’ll be up on your feet even more than the PT would.

Looking to stay fit as you age? The work of a PTA is for you.

You’re Capable

Athletes make great PTAs for another reason: they already possess the strength and talents necessary for success.

Your whole life, you’ve trained to better yourself in ways most people would never dream possible. Your timing, your strategy, your physical capabilities. The mechanisms necessary to improve oneself take years to perfect, and you’ve internalized those over the course of your athletics career.

As a PTA, you get to unpack that knowledge and use it to help somebody else overcome obstacles. You inherently understand what it means to coach somebody through something they never thought possible. You know what that person is capable of and likely have mentors in your life whose guidance you can put into practice. You can draw out in others what seems impossible, because you’ve experienced it yourself.

You’re also far more likely to be physically capable of the job. PTA is a career that asks a lot of the human body. Our technical qualifications for PTAs spell out precisely what’s needed, but you need to be able to catch people, help them up, move equipment and engage in motions that could get you hurt if you haven’t spent the time practicing them. Athletes are well-suited to this because they’ve been practicing for years.

It’s a challenge, but it’s one that athletes are more than capable of overcoming.

You Already Understand the Mechanics of the Human Body

Have you ever seen someone take a golf swing who’s never done so before? Or thrown a fastball for the first time?

It’s almost painful to watch. Without instruction on the proper technique, a person’s form just looks wrong. They might even get hurt.

As an athlete, you’ve studied all those factors that go into proper mechanics. You’ve learned to optimize your actions in whatever sport or activity you participate in.

Being a PTA is all about learning the workings of the human body and transferring that knowledge to your patients. Your education will be in mechanics, therapeutic techniques, rehabilitative methods and more. You’ll have a headstart as an athlete, but your college-level classes will expand your education even further.

It’s up to you to use that knowledge to help others. You’ll work with individuals to get them to practice the motions that will help them get better. Rather than training someone on their golf swing, you could help a person who’s been in a severe car crash regain full mobility or a person who’s come out of surgery learn to walk again.

Work as a Team

Life as a PTA is definitely not an individual sport. You will be part of a healthcare team.

It starts with the physical therapist, who directs care and sets you on the path to help your patients. Then you have all those other PTAs you’ll work with in a clinic. Each of you will bring experiences and specializations to provide the best care possible for those who walk through the doors.

You’ll also interact with other members of the healthcare field. It’s not uncommon to work with nurses and other specialists during the months and years that you see a patient. Then there are the patients themselves, each of whom have unique backgrounds that will make every interaction special.

Together, you will all work to make a difference.

The Victories

Perhaps the best parts of being a PTA, though, are the victories.

Winning a tournament or beating an archrival? That might feel good, but it pales in comparison to seeing a patient walk again for the first time since they suffered a debilitating injury, seeing a child smile because he or she got to hold their mom’s hand without her wincing in pain or having someone thank you for the hard work you put in to make their life better.

You’ll relish those victories because you will have put in the time and energy to make a difference in someone’s life.

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Topics: healthcare education, health professions, physical therapist assistant

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