Physical Therapy Aide

Program Outline

Instruction Sets
Your program consists of five Instruction Sets designed to take you step-by-step through the knowledge and skills you'll use in your new career.

Here's how it works
You receive the first course as soon as your enrollment has been processed, and other courses will follow as you complete your exams.

Computer Specifications
You will need access to a Microsoft® Windows®-based computer (or Mac equivalent) and high-speed Internet in order to complete your program with Penn Foster.

Here is an overview of what you'll learn and the order in which you'll access your lessons:

Program Goal and Outcomes

Program Goal: The program goal for Penn Foster’s Physical Therapy Aide program is to prepare graduates for an entry-level career as a physical therapist aide.

Program Outcomes:
Upon completion of the program, students will be able to:

  • Identify the roles and job duties performed by a typical physical therapist aide and the personal qualities held by successful aides.
  • Demonstrate understanding of the importance of and techniques used in good customer service and effective communication between the aide, the physical therapist, and the patient.
  • Show understanding of common physical therapy techniques, including the use of heat and cold modalities, and their effects on the body.
  • Use appropriate medical terminology related to body systems and physical disorders in order to communicate accurately with patients and colleagues.
  • Show understanding of the importance of a safe health care environment, including potential hazards and fall prevention, and the aide’s role in maintaining a clean, safe workplace.

Instruction Set 1

Starting Your Program
Succeed by learning how to use your Penn Foster program. Understand how to use your Student Portal, including your My Homepage and My Courses pages; access the Penn Foster Community and use it to find answers; and connect with Penn Foster on various social media sites.

Introduction to Physical Therapy
Brief history of physical therapy (PT); definition of physical therapy; settings in which PT is practiced: hospitals, rehabilitation centers, clinics, etc.; categories of PT personnel; educational requirements; members of the patient-care interdisciplinary team and interaction.

Instruction Set 2

The Physical/Occupational Therapy Aide
Definition of PT aide's role; education and training; job description and responsibilities; unskilled and skilled tasks, including clerical, inventory, treatment setup, direct patient care, routine exercise, therapeutic activities; supervision of the PT aide, including supervisory guidelines, supervisory relationship, and Medicare regulations governing the use of aides.

Introduction to Medical Terminology
Definitions; anatomical positioning, directional terms, body regions; therapeutic terminology; common abbreviations.

Pronunciation CD
Introduction to Medical Terminology  

Instruction Set 3

Body Systems Terminology
Musculoskeletal, nervous, sensory, circulatory, and respiratory terminology.

Common Physical Disorders
Dysfunctions and disorders of the musculoskeletal system, including repetitive motion injuries, fractures, soft tissue injuries, joint diseases, low back pain, osteoporosis, muscular dystrophy, and hernias. Dysfunctions and disorders of the nervous system, including headaches, general pain, numbness and tingling, carpal tunnel syndrome, cerebral vascular accident, transient ischemic attack, cerebral palsy, Alzheimer's disease, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, and epilepsy. Infectious disorders, including meningitis, poliomyelitis, shingles, and Bell's palsy. Other disorders, including amputation and decubitus ulcers.

Pronunciation CD
Body Systems Terminology  

Instruction Set 4

Physical Therapy Treatments
Introduction to therapeutic modalities or treatments, and the aide's role in administering such treatments. Superficial heat treatments; deep heating treatments; cryotherapy. Appropriate body mechanics and patient transfers.

Exercise And Mobility Training
Common therapeutic exercise and the aide's role, including range of motion exercises, strength exercises, and coordination exercises. Mobility training, including ambulation (walking) and gait training (rhythmic movements of the arms, legs, and trunk in walking).

DVD: Exercise and the Aide

Instruction Set 5

Customer Service
The patient relationship; patient rights and responsibilities; confidentiality; telephone and interpersonal skills; interacting with patients, the rehabilitative team, and other personnel; problem solving and conflict resolution.

Workplace Health and Safety
Patient safety, including standard first aid, CPR, recognizing patient distress; personal safety, including wellness, proper body mechanics and lifting techniques; environmental safety, including infection control, universal precautions; fire/disaster procedures.

Supplement: Clinical Work Experience Option

Graduation Set
(Sent to you when all program requirements and financial obligations have been met.)

Quick Reference to Physical Therapy


Online Library and Librarian
Students in Penn Foster Career School have access to an online library for use during their studies. Students can use this library to do the required research in the courses they complete or can use it for general reference and links to valuable resources. The library contains helpful research assistance, articles, databases, books, and Web links. A librarian is available to answer questions on general research-related topics via email and to assist students in research activities during their studies with Penn Foster Career School International.

Note: A High School Diploma or GED is required to enroll in this program.

We reserve the right to change program content and materials when it becomes necessary.