As a physical therapy assistant one off the daily operations in most work settings to address the day to day needs of your patients will be to perform what are known as range of motion exercises (ROM) with your patients. Range of motion exercises are designed to keep fluids moving throughout the joints of the body, which keeps the joints well lubricated. This will give the patients healthier joints, decrease deterioration, and can improve the patients mobility, and quality of life as much as possible depending on the severity of they issues they are dealing with.
ROM is a common job duty in settings such as elderly care homes, and hospitals where patients sit in or lay in bed for a long period of their day. Range of motion exercises keep patients as mobile and flexible as possible, increases their comfort, and can prevent bed sores and inflammation from targeting localized areas.
Active Range of motion: Exercises designed to teach patients how to move the effected joints which are in discomfort. the Physical therapy assistant may assist passively with this protocol by assisting patients through the movements, or assisting with movements that the patient is having trouble with. Patients are always encouraged to strictly follow the active range of motion exercises that are prescribed by the physical therapist. These exercises are essential for signaling the body to stay flexible, as well as promote the healing process in damage or restricted areas of the body. A physical therapist assistant will teach these exercises as part of their job description.
Passive Range of Motion: For patients that are unable to actively perform exercises on their own, the physical therapist assistant will move their joints through the joints general range of motion. This includes moving the joints on the main axis’ of movement (flexion, extension, internal rotation, external rotation etc). This helps to prevent the further progression of the patients condition, as well helps keep the patient as flexible as possible while they are bed ridden. PTA’s work in old age homes, and in hospitals where many of the patients they will see throughout the day are stuck to the confines of their bed. passive range of motion is a crucial tool to use for such patients. Even patients that have some movement benefit from having the PTA move their joints through all ranges of motion on a daily basis to promote healing. The supervisory physical therapist will be asking you to perform this duty often!
Physical therapy assistants are always encouraged to take continuing education credits to help keep their skills up to date. Learning different forms of passive or active range of motion exercises can benefit not only the patients the PTA attends, but also allows the PTA to bring greater quality skills to the workplace, securing their place as a strong member of the team. Upgrading education and a willingness to show a desire to learn new skills definitely go a long way in retaining employment, and commanding a solid salary. Do you know your range of motion exercises?