Physical Therapy Aide Course Details

Penn Foster Career School’s online Physical Therapy Aide program teaches students the necessary skills to work with patients, including courses on preparing the treatment area, moving patients, and performing clerical duties.

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.

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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 nervous, sensory, circulatory, and respiratory systems.
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
In this lesson, you’ll learn how to utilize heat and cold in treatments.


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

Additional Details

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 in the Penn Foster Program. Prospective students should contact the state professional licensing board or similar regulatory body in the state(s) where they plan to work to determine their requirements before enrolling in this Program. Click here for contact information for state licensing/regulatory boards and certain industry licensing information.
Penn Foster Career School is not approved or regulated as a school by the Maryland Higher Education Commission.
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.

Penn Foster Career School Accreditation & Licensing Details

Penn Foster has been accredited for over 50 years. Penn Foster Career School has been thoroughly reviewed and has earned several important accreditations, certifications, and licensing. Most importantly, Penn Foster Career School is both regionally and nationally accredited.

Surround Sound Support

A Committed Support System

While you can study independently, you’re not alone! With a dedicated Student Services department, the Student Community, and instructors just a call away, you’ll have access to the support you need.

Progress Tracking and Goal Setting Tools

Our customizable goal-setting tools will help you create a schedule and stick to it. Need some extra time to complete a lesson? Not a problem — you can adjust your study plan at any time to set a pace that works for you.
Progress Tracking and Goal Setting Tools
Penn Foster Student Community

Student Community

Looking to connect with other Penn Foster students? Our Student Community is the perfect place for you to interact with your peers — as well as Penn Foster faculty and staff — to discuss your online learning experience, congratulate fellow students, and share your Penn Foster experience.

Sample Physical Therapy Aide Lesson

Penn Foster courses are written in a way that is easy to understand, and materials are broken down into manageable online lessons. Check out what a Physical Therapy Aide course would look like:
Penn Foster Physical Therapy Aide Sample Lesson
Computer Specifications
As you know this is an online academic program. This means you will need access to high-speed internet to begin your program. In addition, you will need access to a Microsoft® Windows® based computer running Windows 10® or later or an Apple® Mac® computer running macOS® or later, and an email account to complete this program.
We reserve the right to change program content and materials when it becomes necessary.
Microsoft and Windows are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.
Apple, Mac, and macOS are trademarks of Apple, Inc. registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.
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