**Russell Croker, a Physiotherapist Assistant and co-founder of Occupational Therapy/Physiotherapy service company TherAssist, details his experiences.**
I graduated from the Occupational Therapy/ Physiotherapy Assistant (OT/PTA) Program at Durham College, Oshawa in June 2016. I was fortunate to get hired at Extendicare after working there for my final block placement.
I work in Convalescent Care which is a ninety day rehabilitation program subsidized by the Ministry of Health. We provide a service for people who have been discharged from hospital but may not yet be ready for a successful return to home. Types of admissions include individuals who have suffered a stroke, amputees, musculoskeletal injuries, and those who have become deconditioned due to prolonged inactivity whilst in hospital. Participants in the program can range in age from their early forties to their late nineties. I currently see twenty residents on the Convalescent Care Program on a daily basis as well as providing an on going service for approximately sixty residents in Long Term Care alongside two other PTAs.
The main focus of my work is to facilitate individual therapeutic exercise programs as prescribed by the Physiotherapist. The scope of my role however is not limited to this. I find that providing the right level of motivation and reasoning as to why a participant is performing a particular exercise is key to a successful discharge. As a PTA I am also a repair man, counsellor, and intermediary. I will not go through a day without a wheelchair needing repair, a resident needing a friendly ear to confide in, or a family member wanting an update on therapy progress.
The biggest satisfaction I get from my job is seeing an individual successfully discharged home, especially when they arrived on a stretcher or wheelchair and leave on their own two feet. Unfortunately for those in Long Term Care this will not be the case, but this is not to undermine the impact the PTA has on these residents by reducing the risk of secondary complications from prolonged bed rest, maintaining a level of independence through strength and range of motion training, and providing pain relief though the use of modalities like thermo and cryotherapy.
I think it takes a certain personality type to become a successful PTA, as it does with Nurses and Personal Support Workers. I thoroughly enjoy my job and the contribution I make everyday to the health and well-being of residents.
My partner and I have taken it upon ourselves to start our own therapy assistant service. TherAssist has the mission of helping an individual or their loved ones maintain physiotherapy and occupational therapy programs in the home. We also provide respite care for our client’s care givers. I will continue to vigorously advocate for my profession with the notion that behind every good Physiotherapist there is an excellent PTA.