The Personality Of A Physiotherapy Assistant

June 7th, 2016 / By Eastern College

Forget the stereotype of physiotherapists who spend all day in a windbreaker and a tracksuit—leaders in the industry focus on soft skills that enhance patient relationships. Empathy, support, and firm coaching all define the role as a facilitator for recovery. Do any of these traits sound familiar?
physiotherapy assistant helping senior male

The goal of physiotherapy is to restore, maintain, and improve the function and well-being of a patient through physical rehabilitation, injury prevention, and health and fitness.

Sensitive and Empathetic

Physiotherapists need to understand their patients’ pains on all levels, and so do their assistants. It’s not just about what the patient should feel, but also about the things you can’t see. For example, a client may have unexplained pains, so you can’t assume it’s just “all in their heads.” There is a legal angle to helping patients overcome their physical pains, so a dash of caution comes recommended for the personality, too.

You need to empathize with the patient’s situation on all levels as you get to know them. That doesn’t happen in one session, of course—it is a part of the rehabilitation process. But the best PTAs nurture their patient relationships with every chance they get, in order to help people recover as effectively as possible. Everyone has different strengths, fears, mental blocks, and physical difficulties. That doesn’t make anyone a “difficult” person—it just means that good physiotherapy assistants always work toward understanding what makes their patients tick.

Happy to be Supportive

Helpful personalities thrive in this career path more so than others. It’s a mash-up role of physician, coach, and consultant, and the focus can change many times per day. Where is the line between professional consulting and effective leadership? These two seem likely to clash now and again, but there are ways around it. It depends on the exact situation, and these can sometimes switch quickly.

You need to be a professional administrator in assisting the lead physiotherapist, which is a supportive role by nature. When you advance your career into a full-fledged physiotherapist, you’ll learn to stay at an arm’s length when prescribing treatment and a rehabilitation regimen, too. Remember that you need to make those calls based on a doctor’s diagnosis, too!

But when it comes time to guide patients through their exercises, you need to mentor them like a coach. This means teaching them the proper form for every exercise, but also knowing when to stop pushing them—particularly when they experience pain. “No pain, no gain” does not apply to physiotherapy because it’s about retraining the body to move without experiencing pain at all, one step at a time.

Firm but Fair

With support and empathy in mind, people in the physiotherapy career path balance those traits with professional confidence. Patients know their bodies, pains, and limits better than anyone else—that is true—but they don’t know how to improve their respective conditions. Physiotherapists and their assistants know how to help people push their limits to recover.

… but not too far—experiencing pain during physical rehabilitation can signal serious damage, so those in the know for the physiotherapy industry know when to ease up. Striking the balance between empathy and firm coaching is the key to success.

The sector enforces standards that hold everyone accountable for how they spend their time on the job, as well as what happens in that time. The PTA role calls for someone with a keen eye for detail—there is a record-keeping aspect to the role to make sure that everything is in order at the day’s end. It’s a nice way to end days of hard work.

Do you have these traits? If so, here’s how to become a Physiotherapy Assistant today!