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What is a Physical Therapist Assistant? by Daria Davis, PTA, CMSK

A physical therapist assistant (PTA), is a licensed clinician who provides patient care under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist (PT). A physical therapist evaluates the patient and determines the plan of care that will help the patient to meet their goals, reduce pain, and restore function. A physical therapist assistant works within the plan of care to provide the best treatment for each patient.


PTAs in the state of Montana can perform many of the same treatments as PTs can, including: soft tissue mobilizations, joint mobilizations, exercise prescription, and application of modalities. PTAs in Montana do not dry needle or perform manipulations. PTAs can work in a variety of different settings and with different patient populations. The majority of PTAs work in hospital-based settings or outpatient facilities.


To become a licensed physical therapist assistant, you have to graduate from an accredited PT Assistant Program. Coursework for the program includes both in-person learning and coursework as well as clinical rotations, where students get hands-on experience working with patients. After completing the program, graduates will have to apply for licensure and pass both a state jurisprudence exam and national board exam.


I graduated from the Flathead Valley Community College PTA Program in July of 2020 and began working at ARS in September of 2020. Over the past 3+ years, I have completed a variety of continuing education courses focused on lifestyle medicine, low back pain, and shoulder dysfunctions. Most recently, I completed a year-long manual therapy certification through NAIOMT and became a Certified Musculoskeletal Therapist (CMSK). Working as a PTA for Advanced Rehab has given me the opportunity to work with a great group of therapists and treat a variety of different patients. - Daria Davis, PTA, CMSK

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