About Physical Therapist Assisting


Mission Statement

The Physical Therapist Assistant Program at Kent State University prepares students to become graduates who are employed as physical therapist assistants and work under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist. Graduates will have the critical thinking skills, knowledge base, technical skills, and behaviors that promote justice, equity, and inclusivity consistent with the expectations of the physical therapy profession and the communities they serve.

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Program History and Accreditation

Kent State University at East Liverpool (KSU-EL) was first accredited in 1989 by the Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) as a Physical Therapist Assistant program. The program was expanded in 1996 to the Ashtabula Campus (KSU-A). The PTA programs on each campus sought and received independent accreditation from 2005 to 2013. In 2009, KSU-A was also accredited to offer the Athletic Trainers Transitions concentration, which provides advanced placement to certified athletic trainers.

In April, 2013, KSU received CAPTE approval to re-structure the administration of the Physical Therapist Assistant Technology (PTST) degree programs under one director and with one accreditation for all degree options offered at Kent State University (KSU). Independently, the three degree options have consistently received the longest accreditation periods possible. In November 2015, all three programs were re-accredited for 10 more years. 

Physical Therapist Assistant Technology (PTST) at Kent State University at Ashtabula, the expansion program at East Liverpool, and the Athletic Trainers Transition (PTST-ATT) concentration are each accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314, telephone: 703-706-3245; email: accreditation@APTA.org; website: https://www.capteonline.org

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PTST Program Goals
  • Graduate students who:
  1. Earn an Associate of Applied Science in Physical Therapist Assistant Technology    
  2. Pass the National Physical Therapist Assistant Examination        
  3. Are employed as a licensed physical therapist assistant        
  4. Provide physical therapy services in a legal, ethical and culturally competent manner
  • Provide a curriculum that:
  1. Is current, relevant and effective      
  2. Includes a variety of appropriate learning experiences in both the academic and clinical settings      
  3. Is sequential and cumulative to facilitate student achievement of the curriculum objectives
  • Retain faculty who:
  1. Are qualified to teach their content areas        
  2. Model and mentor the behavioral expectations of physical therapy practitioners        
  3. Foster an environment of mutual respect and collaborative learning

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Philosophical Statement

The Physical Therapist Assistant Program faculty supports the mission of Kent State University, the Regional College, the Ashtabula and East Liverpool Campuses, and the PTA Program. These mission statements form the foundation for our most basic beliefs, concepts, and attitudes regarding the education of future physical therapist assistants to meet the expectations of the physical therapy profession and society in general.

Society expects post-secondary education to graduate students who have a set of functional knowledge and skills that allows them to be contributing members of society. Graduates of the PTA Program at KSU must not only have the foundational knowledge, basic skills, and essential behaviors to be employed today, they also should be prepared to discover, create, apply and share knowledge to meet the changing needs of society with ethical and humanitarian values throughout their lives.

Society expects the Health Care system to provide the highest quality care using the most affordable delivery methods possible in an ever changing system.  Our graduates must be able to work within the ever changing healthcare environment to meet the needs of multiple communities of interest while providing high-quality, efficient and cost effective services to their patients.

The role of physical therapy is expanding from the traditional treatment for injuries, functional limitations and disability to include wellness and preventative care, including screening and education. Physical therapy services are provided in many settings, including hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, home health agencies, schools, sports and fitness facilities, work settings, and extended care settings. The Physical Therapists and the Physical Therapist Assistant provide these services to improve physical function and minimize injury potential for patients and clients throughout the lifespan.

Physical therapists are increasingly Doctors of Physical Therapy who provide an entry point into the health care system and often act as advocates for patients and clients within that system. They are health care professionals who examine, diagnose, and then prevent or treat conditions that limit the ability to move and function in daily life.  Our graduates must be able to work with and for doctors of physical therapy.

The physical therapist assistant (PTA) is educated and licensed to work under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist (PT). PTAs work with physical therapists to provide components of care for patients of all ages who have medical problems or other conditions that limit their abilities to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives. Our graduates must adhere to the highest legal and ethical standards; be able to motivate and communicate with patients; provide effective, efficient, logical, and evidence-based interventions to progress treatments within the PT established plan of care; maintain open communications and respectful relationships with their supervising PT; and demonstrate confidence in their role and abilities, sound clinical judgment, independent thinking, and a desire to learn and adapt.

The learning process requires the active participation of both students and faculty in a sequential plan of study with clear expectations and defined benchmarks and outcomes. Learners of all ages come into the PTA Program from a wide variety of social, economic, cultural and academic backgrounds, bringing a wide variety of life experience to the learning environment. Selective admission into the PTA Program establishes a minimum standard of academic and behavioral abilities that forms a common foundation for all admitted students. The selective admission establishes equity between students who are able to work together to achieve their educational goals.

The learning environment should provide a comfortable setting with current materials, modern equipment and technology that enhances learning. It needs to be dynamic and guided but not dictated, challenging but not overwhelming, visually and mentally stimulating, and address the needs of visual, verbal and physical learners. The PTA Program uses three distinct settings to create unique and relevant learning experiences. The classroom, whether on-campus or online, is where foundational knowledge and concepts are taught and assessed. The laboratory provides a simulated environment to apply knowledge, learn and practice skills, and demonstrate essential competencies. The clinical education setting provides real world experience with patients under the guidance of a licensed PT or PTA.

An effective curriculum plan is a series of progressive learning experiences that build on previously learned skills, knowledge and behaviors to use higher orders of thinking, develop more complex skills, and refine the value-based behaviors needed by a PTA. The classroom, laboratory and clinical settings each provide unique and essential learning experiences that combine to achieve the curriculum objectives and prepare graduates to work as an entry-level physical therapist assistant in a variety of settings. The Physical Therapist Assistant Technology (PTST) curriculum must include core content in anatomy, physiology and therapeutic interventions for common neuromuscular, musculoskeletal, cardiovascular and Integumentary disorders throughout the lifespan. Throughout the course of study emphasis is placed on best practice guidelines; provision of safe, ethical and legal care; assessment of treatment effectiveness; the use of research to guide patient care; and effective documentation and communication. Graduates are prepared to take the National Physical Therapist Assistant Examination, with the ultimate expectation of being employed as a licensed physical therapist assistant.

Faculty guide, direct and facilitate the learning process by providing current resources, designed learning activities, and regular feedback so that all students have every possible opportunity to achieve the desired outcomes and earn a degree.  The faculty are not only educators, but licensed physical therapists and physical therapist assistants, with a duty to assure that all graduates meet or exceed the physical therapy community's minimum expectations of a PTA.  Faculty use their professional judgment to assess the student's ability to critically think, retain and apply knowledge, perform technical skills, and demonstrate the behaviors necessary to progress in the PTA Program.

Students in the PTA Program must take responsibility for their own learning. They must be committed to investing the time and effort to acquire the knowledge, skills, and behaviors required of a PTA. Fully participating, taking the initiative to learn, practicing and studying regularly, asking timely questions, having a positive attitude, and staying organized are all keys to student success and maximizing their potential. Graduates will be confident in their ability to learn new things, eager to use their specialized knowledge and skills to benefit others, and capable of problem solving and deductive reasoning to adapt to new and changing situations.

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Expected Student Outcomes

The Kent State University graduate with an AAS-PTST degree demonstrates the ability to provide physical therapy services in a legal, ethical and culturally competent manner

  1. Provides appropriate and effective physical therapy interventions within the plan of care established by a physical therapist.    
  2. Effectively communicates with others, teaching or instructing when appropriate  
  3. Produces legal and ethical documentation to meet professional expectations and the needs of third party payers.
  4. Ethically manages fiscal and human resources to provide high-quality, efficient and cost-effective PT services.  
  5. Consistently demonstrates the value-based behaviors of a PTA: Altruism, Caring and Compassion, Continuing Competence, Duty, Integrity, PT/PTA Collaboration, Responsibility, and Social Responsibility.

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PTST Catalog Information

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PTA Career Information

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy serves society as a dynamic profession with an established theoretical and scientific base and widespread clinical applications in the restoration, maintenance, and promotion of optimal physical function. Physical therapy is a profession that is scientifically based, while at the same time highly interpersonal. Optimal physical therapy intervention requires health care providers who demonstrate sensitivity, flexibility, and adaptability. Physical therapist assistants who provide physical therapy interventions must be skilled in technical applications, verbal and non-verbal communication, problem solving, and collaboration. Physical therapy providers are lifelong learners capable of adapting to changes in technology, delivery systems and society.

Physical Therapist Assistant

The physical therapist assistant is an educated and licensed person who, under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist, assists in the provision of physical therapy interventions. The KSU faculty understands physical therapy services as a combination of art, applied science, and caring interaction.

The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) currently defines the Physical Therapist Assistant as follows: "The physical therapist assistant is a technically educated health care provider who assists the physical therapist in the provision of physical therapy. The physical therapist assistant is a graduate of a physical therapist assistant associate degree program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE)." APTA HOD 06-00-27  

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