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Your Career as a Physiotherapist Assistant: Overview and Salary

2017-06-26 by Mark Harrington


While Physiotherapist Assistants are not licensed practitioners, they play an important role within a physiotherapy office and help licensed practitioners deliver quality care to their patients. Physiotherapist Assistants work behind the scenes and as important coordinators for the physical therapy of all patients. Any physiotherapy office will run more effectively with an organized and well-trained Physiotherapist Assistant on board. The following are regular responsibilities and duties of a Physiotherapist Assistant: §  Prepare for physiotherapy sessions by organizing the treatment based on patient’s needs §  Making sure the physiotherapy area is clean and well organized with needed and necessary equipment §  Study the patient’s development during physiotherapy sessions and note how the patient is responding. Licensed Physiotherapists will use these notes to evaluate the helpfulness of certain treatments §  Help patients move from one area of physiotherapy to another – Physiotherapist Assistants need physical strength because they may have to move several immobile patients each day.  Physiotherapist Assistants help patients walk, push them in wheelchairs, and assist in sitting and standing. They are even responsible for helping to pick them up and move them to another location depending on the severity of the patient’s needs. §  Fulfill regular office duties, such as ordering supplies, answering phone calls, taking appointments, calling patients, and helping complete and file insurance paperwork. Physiotherapist Assistants are able to work in many areas of a facility or clinic, and is a role that requires organizational skills, as well as the ability to be flexible and reliable. While they will are always work where Licensed Physiotherapists work, you will find many opportunities for work in such places as:

§  Private Clinics
§  Hospitals
§  Nursing Homes
§  Rehabilitation Centers
§  Home Care
§  Orthopedic clinics

The average salary for a Physiotherapist Assistant is almost $24,000, while the top ten percent of earners earn close to $35,000.  Some deciding factors in salary would be experience, and the size and location of clinic or organization. While working as a Physiotherapist Assistant, you may choose to continue your education to become a Licensed Physiotherapist or pursue another avenue in the healthcare field to earn more money or widen your knowledge of the medical field. Becoming a Physiotherapist Assistant can be a fun and rewarding career. It offers people the ability to work in a steady job in the medical field without taking any tests or requiring any certification, but offers a lot of on the job training and valuable learning in an office or clinical environment. It is also very important work which helps both patients and doctors in progressing treatment forward and helping to ensure the best care at all levels. For more information about the Physiotherapist Assistant Diploma Program at National Academy, please contact one of our three campuses today.

Hamilton – 905.521.9991
Mississauga – 905.273.6656
Toronto – 416.545.0404
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4 Facts About Sports Injuries for Students in Physiotherapist Assistant Training

2016-11-16 by Mark Harrington
Playing sports is a common cause behind injuries seen by physiotherapist assistants

Playing sports is a common cause behind injuries seen by physiotherapist assistants

Physiotherapist assistants play a crucial role working alongside licensed physiotherapists as they help treat patients suffering from injuries. There are many career paths you can take as a physiotherapist assistant. Whether you prefer to work in a hospital, physiotherapy clinic, long-term care facility, or sports medicine clinic, you are sure to have a rewarding career.

If you’re interested in the area of sports medicine, you should consider working in a fitness club or sports medicine clinic after successful completion of your training. Check out these four facts about sports injuries you may discover when pursuing this exciting career path!

1. Sprains and Knee Injuries Are Often Seen After Physiotherapist Assistant Training

During your extensive physiotherapist assistant training that combines theory with practical knowledge, you will spend one hundred hours learning about rehabilitation techniques. You may go on to use these techniques to treat common sports injuries.

The first most common type of sports related injury is sprains. A sprain is when a patient twists or contorts a ligament causing pain, but luckily no dislocation. The second most common category of sports injury is knee injuries, which could include knee dislocation or muscle tears. The remaining most common forms of sports injuries include bone fractures, dislocations, and swollen muscles.

2. Acute or Chronic Are the Types of Injuries Seen After Physiotherapist Assistant Training

All sports injuries should be taken seriously, whether they are acute or chronic. Acute injuries occur suddenly while a patient in participating in sports or physical exercise. Symptoms of acute injuries could include limb weakness, swelling, and sudden severe pain. This could happen if a patient lands the wrong way after kicking a ball or overextends their arm while throwing.

As you may learn during your physiotherapist assistant diploma classes about anatomy and kinesiology, chronic injuries occur over a long period of time. Symptoms of chronic pain you should watch for are swelling, a dull ache in the patient’s body even when they aren’t playing sports, and pain while they are being physically active. Chronic injuries occur over time from overuse of a body part, and often go ignored by a patient because the pain is not severe. However, it is important to educate your future patients so they know that chronic injury can cause serious problems if left untreated.

After physiotherapist assistant training, students may help treat sports injuries

After physiotherapist assistant training, students may help treat sports injuries

3. The RICE Method Is Commonly Recommended By Physiotherapists

After a patient suffers from an injury, often the best first step is to start using the RICE method. It is important to note, though, that if a patient’s symptoms get worse or the pain becomes unbearable they should seek medical help immediately. If the sports injury causes mild to moderate aggravation, the RICE method can be used to speed up the healing process, reduce swelling, and minimize pain.

RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. The first step is rest, which entails stopping the physical activity in order to not cause any further injury. The next step, ice, calls for applying ice to the injured area for 20-minute intervals about four to eight times a day. Compression is the next step. This is when your patient should apply even and moderate pressure to the injured area to prevent swelling. The final step is keeping the injury elevated to further reduce swelling.

4. Physiotherapist Assistants May Know Injuries Are Most Common In Youth

Not very surprisingly, young people and adolescents suffer the most from sports related injuries. According to Statistics Canada, two out of three (66 per cent) of all injuries among adolescents are related to sports. The most common demographic to suffer from these statistics is boys and young men. In total, sports or a form of exercise causes 35 per cent of all injuries in Canada.

Boys and young men are most at risk for sports related injuries

Boys and young men are most at risk for sports related injuries

The most common causes of sport related injuries are falls or overexertion. In fact, half of sports injuries in young people were caused by falls. As a result, you may help treat many adolescents if you choose to work in sports medicine once you become a physiotherapy assistant.

Are you interested in learning how to become a physiotherapist assistant?

Contact an advisor at National Academy of Health and Business today to get started!

3 Facts About Electrotherapeutics for Students in Physiotherapy Schools

2016-08-24 by Mark Harrington

These three facts about electrotherapeutics are important for students in physiotherapy schools to check out to become a physiotherapy pro

Physiotherapy methods that include electrotherapeutics have been around for a long time, with some records of its use dating all the way to 1767. Currently, electrotherapeutics are used to treat issued related to ligaments, muscles, and bones. Electrotherapeutics can involve laser therapy, muscular stimulation, electrical nerve stimulation, and even ultrasound. There is a large amount of research that points to the effectiveness of electrotherapeutics in physiotherapy environments, which is why these methods are commonly used to assist in healing processes. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in physiotherapy, having the skills to facilitate electrotherapeutics gives you a huge advantage in the job pool.

Continue reading to discover three facts about electrotherapeutics.

1. Studies Have Shown that Electrotherapeutics is Effective

A 1999 study by scholars Gardner, Frantz, and Schmidt found that electrotherapeutics were helpful in healing chronic wounds. The researchers looked over fifteen studies, each with a group of people who had been electronically stimulated and one who hadn’t. They found that the rate of healing per week was 22 per cent for electrical stimulation device users and only 9 per cent for the group without electronic stimulation. The researchers concluded that “electrical stimulation produces a substantial improvement in the healing of chronic wounds.”

Due to the research that proves the efficacy of electrotherapeutics, students in physiotherapist assistant training learn the basics of electrotherapeutics in their training at physiotherapy schools like the National Academy of Health and Business (NAHB).

2. Physiotherapist Assistant Diploma Grads Can Use TENS in Their Careers

TENS is an acronym referring to Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation and is commonly used to treat arthritis, lower back pain, labour pain and nerve related pain. In order to help alleviate these symptoms, an electrical device is attached via skin pads to the body and electrical impulses are sent through and across the skin using ‘pulsed ultrasound.’ Physiotherapist assistants also know that some clients might want to use these devices at home in addition to the care they receive during their appointments. TENS machines that can be purchased by clients in order to have relief at home, which some professionals recommend.

Clients can purchase their own electrotherapy machines for use at home

Clients can purchase their own electrotherapy machines for use at home

3. Students in Physiotherapy Schools Can Treat Future Patients Using IFT

Students in physiotherapy schools may encounter interferential therapy (IFT) throughout their training. In many ways, IFT is similar to TENS, with some professionals describing it as a deeper form of TENS therapy. By using two high frequency currents that alternate out of sync and are set up so that the electric paths cross and interfere with each other in the skin, deep stimulation under the skin happens that can lead to several benefits. This treatment helps pain relief, can increase blood flow, can reduce oedema (collection of an excess of watery fluid under the skin), and stimulate muscle to help build it and maintain ranges of motion. For this treatment, physiotherapist assistants help to set up the procedure by placing damp sponges on the part of the patient’s body that will be treated. Then, the physiotherapist will oversee and complete the procedure by sending a current through the sponges.

Want to assist people in getting back on track in life with normal functioning and movement?

Contact an advisor today to discover more about beginning your physiotherapist assistant diploma!

Fixing a Frozen Shoulder: 5 Exercises Students in Physiotherapy Schools Should Know

2016-05-18 by Mark Harrington

Sore after hard workout at fitness

Chances are you’ll encounter a patient that is experiencing frozen shoulder during your time as a physiotherapist. Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, has a disabling quality that can last for upwards of a year and can stop people from going to work or doing daily tasks that require shoulder movement. The cause of this condition is not entirely known, but it involves the build up of scar tissue in the shoulder joint, which ultimately limits movement. Luckily, physiotherapists know that relief can be only a few stretches away.

Read on to discover what stretches are recommended for frozen shoulder by physiotherapists.

1. Physiotherapy School Students Should Know the Pendulum Stretch

If you’re on your way to receiving your physiotherapist assistant diploma, you’ll probably encounter the ins and outs of the pendulum stretch. This stretch is done by letting the affected arm ‘hang’ while leaning over slightly and allowing it to softly swing in a small circle. Tell the patient to picture their arm like a spoon that is lightly stirring pasta in a small pot. Patients should perform 10 revolutions both clockwise and vice versa once per day until improvement is seen.

2. Physiotherapists Should Keep a Towel Handy for the Towel Stretch

During your physiotherapist assistant training you’ll learn that towels aren’t just used to warm up patients, they can be used to stretch and warm up muscles! Grab a regular bath towel and hold it behind your back, with both hands grabbing opposite ends. Using your unaffected arm, gently pull the affected arm upwards for a light stretch. Try to do these pulls 10 to 20 times per day. To help patients incorporate this stretch into their daily routine, why not encourage them to try getting in the habit of doing the towel stretch when they get out of the shower?

3. Finger Walk to Shoulder Freedom! What Physiotherapist Assistant Training Students Know

Want patients to ‘walk away’ from frozen shoulder? Let them try the finger walk stretch. Instruct your patient to stand in front of a wall about three quarters of an arm’s length away. The patient should then place two fingers on the wall, about waist level, and slowly walk up the wall using their fingers in the same way we use legs, alternating between the index finger and middle finger as the hand ascends the wall. Make sure the walk is coming from your patient’s fingers only, and not their shoulder muscles. Patients should walk their hand up the wall as far as they comfortably can and try to repeat the walk 10 to 20 times a day.

4. A Cross-Body Reach Stretch: A Classic in Physiotherapy

This is a standard stretch that patients should be doing once or twice a week, whether they are suffering from frozen shoulder or not. Instruct your patients to use their healthy arm to push the affected arm upwards until it becomes horizontally parallel with the shoulder blades. Then, gently pull the affected arm towards the opposite shoulder across the chest. This exercise can also be performed while sitting, which is a plus if your patient is suffering from any other ailments and needs to rest.

The cross-body reach stretch helps ‘unfreeze’ a patient’s shoulders

The cross-body reach stretch helps ‘unfreeze’ a patient’s shoulders

5. Physiotherapists Know the Armpit Stretch Can Loosen the Shoulder

Instruct your patient to place his or her affected arm on a shelf or platform that is about chest-high as if extending for a front crawl swimming stroke in the pool, and tell the patient to gently bend their knees until a slight stretch in the armpit area is felt. Instruct them to repeat this 10 to 20 times daily until some relief is achieved.

Warming up to the idea of physiotherapy schools?

Unfreeze your career by contacting an advisor at NAHB today.

4 Ways Physiotherapy Schools Promote Children’s Health

2015-10-28 by Mark Harrington

Physiotherapy Schools

People don’t often think of physiotherapy when they think of pediatric care. However, it can play a huge role in treating children with a number of afflictions, such as cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, autism, and any disorder which affects motor skill development. It also plays an important role in helping children rehabilitate after an injury as well as overcoming developmental complications which may be suffered by babies born prematurely.

Many students studying for careers as physiotherapist assistants find themselves working in pediatric physiotherapy after they graduate. As dealing with children can be very different from treating adults, it’s important that programs provide students with the training necessary to meet the needs of this unique patient group.

Read on to learn four ways that physiotherapy schools help prepare students to care for children.

1. Physiotherapy Schools Teach Students to Help Children with Physical Challenges

With pediatric physiotherapy, children with a range of physical disabilities and injuries learn to maximize their independence and mobility.  To help children through this process, therapeutic exercises are often incorporated with play and recreational activities, and a child’s family often plays an important part in the exercises.  This helps ensure that children feel at ease and have fun while they work through difficult physical challenges.

Professionals who have a physiotherapist assistant diploma also play an important role in this process. Working alongside the physiotherapist, the physiotherapist assistant helps to conduct a thorough evaluation of the child’s physical capabilities, and develops, implements, and coordinates a specialized treatment schedule.

2. Physiotherapy Schools Teach Preventative Measures Against Injury

Physiotherapist’s offices are often quite active within their communities, working to promote physical health and teaching preventative measures against injury. For example, many children experience back and spinal problems as a result of wearing school backpacks that are poorly designed, too heavy, or not worn properly. To combat this, pediatric physiotherapy offices often work to promote good backpack habits among children. The physiotherapist assistant will often spearhead these initiatives, helping to develop the promotional material and assisting in talks to schoolchildren.

Pediatric physiotherapist’s offices work to educate children on things like good backpack habits.

Pediatric physiotherapist’s offices work to educate children on things like good backpack habits.

3. Physiotherapist Assistant Students Learn to Communicate With Children

Communicating with children is a gift that even those working within the field of childcare can take years to perfect. In pediatric physiotherapy, where many children often suffer from disorders which inhibit communication skills, such as autism or cerebral palsy, it can be even more difficult.

That’s why students in physiotherapist assistant training are taught about communication disorders, and learn specialized communication skills training, to help ensure that they are ready to deal with child patients face-to-face, and make them feel comfortable and understood.

4. Physiotherapy Schools Teach Hydrotherapy

Physiotherapists help children to develop and repair motor skills, strengthen core muscles and gait, and to become more independent and strong in their mobility. Another valuable technique in pediatric physiotherapy care is hydrotherapy. Patients perform muscle exercises while submerged in water, with the increased resistance and warm water temperatures aiding muscle development. Children with neurological, orthopedic and sensory issues can all benefit from hydrotherapy.

Hydrotherapy can help children suffering from a wide range of difficulties.

Hydrotherapy can help children suffering from a wide range of difficulties.

Physiotherapy schools provide a comprehensive overview of this and other therapeutic techniques to physiotherapist assistants students, allowing them to fully understand the treatments and help therapists more efficiently.

Would you like to play an important role in caring for the physical health of children?

Visit NAHB to learn more about our physiotherapist assistant diploma program or to speak with an advisor.


How Physiotherapy Helps Protect Against Falls

2015-07-01 by Mark Harrington

Physiotherapist assistant diploma

Canada’s senior population is growing. By 2030 – when even the youngest Baby Boomers will be 65 –seniors will make up 23% of our country’s overall population. With that dramatic increase will come a sharp rise in need for physiotherapists. Here’s why: seniors are at a much higher risk of falling than younger members of the population, and physiotherapists are some of the best health care professionals to help prevent those falls.

Physiotherapists and physiotherapist assistants help patients recover from and prevent injuries. They can help seniors improve balance, flexibility, and walking challenges that often lead to falls.

Read on to find out just how important physiotherapy is for seniors, and why preventing falls is an important part of keeping our aging population healthy and active.

The Danger of Falls for Seniors

Seniors are suffering falls at an alarming rate. Almost a third of seniors fall every year, and while half of those falls won’t lead to serious injury, the other half will.

Falling can cause injuries such as:

  • head trauma/ concussion
  • broken wrist, foot, leg, pelvis, back, and hip bones
  • chronic anxiety about falling again
  • loss of mobility and independence
  • paralysis from spinal injuries

In addition, seniors that can’t get up after falling might be trapped until someone comes to help them. Depending on how long a senior is stuck lying on the floor, they can suffer from other injuries such as pressure sores, dehydration, hypothermia, starvation, or even death.

Because of the serious dangers that may accompany a bad fall, it’s crucial for seniors to take a preventative approach by working with a professional with physiotherapist assistant training.

Physiotherapists Evaluate their Patients and Provide Personalized Exercise Programs

Professionals with a physiotherapist assistant diploma begin treating their patients by first conducting a thorough evaluation.

They evaluate their patient’s:

  • balance
  • gait (walking ability)
  • strength
  • flexibility
  • health
  • medical history

Once they have determined which areas need improvement, they recommend exercises and treatment programs that will target the patient’s specific needs. Classes such as tai chi or fall prevention classes taught by a professional with physiotherapy training are great ways for seniors to strengthen their muscles and prevent falls.

Physiotherapy Modalities Can Help Seniors Increase Range of Motion

For some seniors, the best treatment will include regular visits to their physiotherapy clinic so that they can utilize modalities that will increase their range of motion and treat any imbalances in their posture or muscles.

Physiotherapy modalities such as trigger point dry needling help release tension in tight muscles that could be causing balance problems. The physiotherapist will place acupuncture needles in the affected areas, and those needles will allow the muscles to twitch, lengthen, and resolve the trigger point –leading to a relaxed muscle and better balance.

Seniors Can Make Their Homes Safer with the Help of a Professional

Physiotherapists and physiotherapist assistants are excellent at giving advice to seniors about minimizing the risk of falling at home. Physiotherapist assistant courses teach students effective communication skills, which they will use to convey the importance of home safety, and make practical suggestions patients can use to improve safety in their living space.

These tips may include:

  • install sturdy hand rails on stairs
  • secure rugs so that they don’t slip, or get rid of rugs altogether
  • install grab bars in bathrooms near the bathtub, shower, and toilet
  • place non-slip mats in the tub and shower
  • install proper lighting in staircases and other risky areas

Are you considering becoming a physiotherapist assistant? Visit the National Academy of Health and Business for details about our training program, or to speak with an advisor.

Quick Guide to a Career in Sports Physiotherapy

2014-12-10 by Mark Harrington

Patient at the physiotherapy doing physical therapy

Sports have always provided audiences with entertaining spectacle, and the invention of mass media and high-profile sponsorship has made athletes into global super stars.

The increasingly competitive nature of sports today means that athletes are pushing themselves harder than ever before. As a testament to this, there were two dozen sports world records broken in just 2014 alone! Sport and exercise medicine (SEM) doctors ensure that competitors can perform at their best, and also treat athletes who have suffered injuries while aiming for a new title or big win. Because sports injuries require closely monitored rehabilitation, sports medicine clinics have resident physiotherapists and aides who have completed physiotherapist assistant training.

Sports Physiotherapy

Physiotherapists have an extensive understanding of human movement (kinesiology) and the bodily impact of injury. In sports physiotherapy, there are usually several steps that are taken to rehabilitate the patient so that they can return to physical activity. These steps include acute care, which involves directly treating the injury, and rehabilitation, which is managing the injury so that the athlete can continue to perform. A major step after the rehabilitation process is to educate the athlete in the management of their injury and how future injuries can prevented. Some of the most common sports injuries include:

  • Ankle sprain (common with runners)
  • Shin splints (common with runners)
  • Groin pull (common with soccer players)
  • Hamstring pull
  • Tennis elbow
  • ACL tear (knee injury)

Physiotherapy Treatments

When the injury doesn’t have swelling, a physiotherapist may apply a hot pack to relieve muscle or joint stiffness. Acupuncture may be used as a treatment for injuries accompanied by severe pain. With the aid of a physiotherapist assistant, a physiotherapist uses needles which stimulate the brain and spinal cord depending on where they’re placed, releasing natural pain-relieving chemicals such as endorphins.

A sports physiotherapist will often also assign range of motion (ROM) exercises for the patient to complete with the help of a physiotherapist assistant. Range of motion exercises are taught in a wide range of healthcare courses, such as personal support worker training, as it is a simple but effective way to keep aggravated muscles from seizing and preserve the flexibility of joints. Active ROM exercises can be performed by the patient themselves, whereas Passive ROM exercises are prescribed in cases where a patient cannot move the joints themselves due to extreme injury or paralysis. Graduates of personal support worker courses will often be skilled in Passive ROM exercises for elderly patients who have lost much of their mobility.

Another primary component of sports physiotherapy is massage, also called soft-tissue mobilization. Massage may be used by a physiotherapist to treat sore muscles, muscle spasms, decrease swelling and reduce pain. By increasing the supply of oxygen to the muscle tissue, toxins are released, aiding the recovery process.

Assistance Strategies as a Personal Support Worker

2014-09-17 by Mark Harrington

assistance psw

If you are someone who finds fulfillment in helping other people daily, like a community services worker, then perhaps personal support worker is a career path you would consider. Whereas a community services worker is more involved in the social wellbeing of citizens through work in women’s shelters and community centres, a personal support worker helps individuals with their long-term healthcare.

To get started in this career, you must obtain certification from a personal support worker college. As a support worker you may be placed in a retirement home, private home or clinical care setting in order to assist a medically stable patient with their domestic life. A personal support worker will perform everyday duties which include bedside care, movement aid, personal hygiene, bathing and dressing/undressing. Depending on the immobility level of the patient, personal support workers may plan and cook meals according to special diets, and administer feeding when necessary. Doing laundry, household chores and performing routine medical duties may all be responsibilities of the job as well.

elderly senior being brought meal by carer or nurse

There are certain traits which make a good personal support worker. Here are some of the most important:


Many of your patients will be either immobile or struggling with their mobility. Sometimes simple tasks can feel like climbing a mountain to them. Part of a personal support worker’s job is not just to perform these tasks for the patient, but encourage them to do their best as well. The ability to perform tasks themselves will allow patients to retain some independence and give them confidence!


Sometimes your patient will be nearing the end of their life and is perhaps in some discomfort or pain. It is important that a personal support worker can be kind and compassionate towards the patient and their family at these times. You may work in collaboration with professionals with physiotherapist assistant training from time to time to help patients progress in their convalescence.

Interpersonal Skills

While you are there to care for the patient, you will sometimes be in their home or personal space for several hours a day. You are therefore also there as a compatriot and professional friend. Knowing how to communicate with different types of people is a critical skill for personal support workers.

Overall, there is an increasing need for personal support workers in a country with an aging population. If you’d like the ability to choose your own schedule, help others and work in healthcare, then consider becoming a personal support worker!


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