Physical Therapy Aide – Online Training | Penn Foster Career School

Physical Therapy Aide

Why Penn Foster Career School?

  • Regionally & Nationally Accredited
  • Self-Paced
  • Supportive
  • Low monthly payments

Physical Therapy Aide Training Overview

In Penn Foster Career School’s Physical Therapy Aide program, you can take the first steps toward a career that allows you to help people in their time of need. Physical therapist aides work under the supervision of a physical therapist to help patients regain movement and manage pain as they recover from injuries or illnesses. Courses in our PT aide program can help you prepare to fulfill a variety of duties as a physical therapist aide, from preparing the treatment area to moving patients and performing clerical duties.

At Penn Foster Career School, you can finish your Physical Therapy Aide program in as little as one month. Our program covers topics such as:

Curriculum Details

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.

Unit 1

Starting Your Program

Succeed by learning how to use your Penn Foster program.


  • Understand how to use your Student Portal.
  • Access the Penn Foster Community and use it to find answers.
  • Connect with Penn Foster on various social media sites.
Introduction to Physical Therapy

In this lesson, you’ll learn what the practice of physical therapy is all about.


  • Explore the history of physical therapy.
  • Understand the roles of the members of a rehabilitation team.

Unit 2

The Physical/Occupational Therapy Aide

Physical therapy aides are skilled health-care workers who are important parts of the rehabilitative team.


  • Understand the role of the physical therapy aide, which includes administering treatments to patients, performing administrative duties, and helping the facility run smoothly and efficiently.
Introduction to Medical Terminology

Become familiar with the medical terms that you will hear on a daily basis in your new career.


  • Expand your understanding of medical terminology to include the anatomy, pathology, procedures, and abbreviations associated with the nervous, sensory, circulatory, and respiratory systems.
Additional Unit Materials

Learning Aids:

  • Pronunciation CD
  • Introduction to Medical Terminology Flash Cards

Unit 3

Body Systems Terminology

A body system is composed of organs that are designed to work together so that a particular function—such as breathing—can be performed.


  • Understand terminology associated with musculoskeletal, nervous, sensory, circulatory, and respiratory systems.
Common Physical Disorders

In this lesson, you’ll identify common dysfunctions, disorders, and conditions of the musculoskeletal system.


  • Explain the inflammatory process that occurs in the body after an injury.
  • Describe common disorders such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, and hernias.
Additional Unit Materials

Learning Aids:

  • Pronunciation CD
  • Body Systems Terminology Flash Cards

Unit 4

Physical Therapy Treatments

In this lesson, you’ll learn how to utilize heat in treatments.


  • Describe the aide’s role in administering heat treatments.
  • Understand the purpose of superficial heat treatments, deep heating treatments, and cryotherapy.
Exercise and Mobility Training

Aides help with common therapeutic exercises to help increase range of motion, strength, or coordination.


  • Describe body mechanics and patient transfers.
  • Know the types of exercises, including range of motion, strength, and coordination.
  • Explain ambulation and gait training.

Unit 5

Customer Service

Rehabilitation clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, and other providers of therapy have cut costs by hiring aides to assist therapists in the delivery of care to patients.


  • Understand an aide’s role as a customer service provider and high-quality caregiver.
  • Describe and apply important customer service skills.
Workplace Health and Safety

In this lesson, you’ll learn about personal, patient, and environmental safety.


  • Practice proper body mechanics and lifting techniques.
  • Understand standard first aid and CPR.
  • Recognize patient distress.
  • Outline infection control, universal precautions, and disaster procedures.
Clinical Work Experience Option

This program includes an optional work experience component. Looking to your future, we’re providing you with this Work Experience Option Supplement that can be used to help you find a position as a trainee in a medical facility.

Computer Specifications
As you know this is an online academic program. This means you will need high-speed internet access to begin your program. In addition, you will need access to a Microsoft® Windows® based computer running Windows 7® or later or an Apple® Mac® computer running OS X® or later, and an email account to participate in and complete your program.

Sample Lesson

To view a Physical Therapy Aide sample lesson, click here.

State Requirements for Physical Therapy Aides

Physical therapy is regulated entirely by state licensure laws and practice acts and by federal laws relative to federal programs like Medicare. The physical therapist can and should determine what activities the aide should provide, but that is not regulation. Duties in each state vary. The aide position in Physical Therapy is an unregulated, unlicensed, non-certified, nonregistered profession. There are no requirements for an aide in any state. The program is not sufficient for an assistant position in any state. Assistants require specific educational training, certification, and licensure examinations in every state.

State Licensing Information

Licensing and/or certification requirements for jobs in this field are not the same in every state and may include educational, testing, and/or experiential requirements beyond those offered by your Penn Foster Program. You should contact the state professional licensing board or similar regulatory body in the state(s) where you plan to work to determine their requirements before enrolling in your Program. Please click here for contact information for state licensing/regulatory boards and certain industry licensing information.

Physical Therapy Aide Career

Here are a few qualities that skilled physical therapy aides have in common:

  • Sociable: Spending time with others is fun and rewarding.
  • Compassionate: You care about the health and well-being of others.
  • Cooperative: You are pleasant and a good communicator.
  • Patient: Helping others recover from injuries is a step-by-step process that can take time.

I'm glad I found Penn Foster and picked a great program that will help make a difference in people's lives. I was recently offered a job as a Physical Therapy Aide for a rehabilitation hospital. I am well on my way to an exciting, new career!

- Don L., Physical Therapy Aide Graduate

Your program includes:

  • Customized payment plans with 0% interest 
  • Learning aids
  • Goal-setting and progress-tracking tools
  • Instructional support from our experienced faculty
  • Access 24/7 to Penn Foster’s online community, plus immediate membership in the Physical Therapy Aide academic group
  • Your personalized online student homepage and learning portal
  • Additional resources such as our online library and career guidance from Career Cruising

How much time does it take to complete the Physical Therapy Aide program?

You can complete Penn Foster Career School’s Physical Therapy Aide program in as little as one month. The online program consists of five units designed to take you step-by-step through the knowledge and skills you can use in the field. You also have the opportunity for a Work Experience Option.

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