There’s cause for Physical Therapist Assistant to Celebrate! 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the first physical therapist assistant (PTA) graduates.

The APTA  stated that a half-century for the rise of the PTA from something that seemed like a good idea to a recognized, well-established, and in-demand profession integral to health care represents a remarkably short ascendance. Today, it’s hard to imagine the delivery of physical therapy without PTAs on the team.

Here’s a look at how the PTA profession came into being, and what’s happened since.

The Beginnings: A Clear Need, and a Creative Solution

We learned from The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) that the APTA first began to consider the idea of a physical therapist assistant in the 1940s, when physical therapists were treating soldiers injured in World War II, just as a new polio outbreak emerged. The United States had experienced 2 world wars, the Great Depression, and multiple polio outbreaks, resulting in high demand for the services of the approximately 2,500 physical therapists working at that time. Helen Blood, PT, FAPTA, a California Chapter member, introduced the House of Delegates (House) resolution to create a committee to consider a “physical therapy assistant occupation.”

First PTA Programs Established

In 1967, the House adopted the policy statement “Training and Utilization of Physical Therapy Aides and Assistants” to establish educational standards, scope of practice, licensure, and eligibility for APTA membership. That same year, the first PTA education programs were established at Miami-Dade Community College in Florida and St Mary’s Junior College in Minnesota (now St Mary’s Campus of the University of St Catherine).

In 1968, Green River Community College in Washington admitted its first class of 26 students.

By 1971, APTA had approved 10 PTA education programs.

The number of PTA education programs grew steadily in the 1970s and 1980s, reaching the 100-program mark in the early 90s. After that, things really took off: today there are 393 accredited PTA programs across the United States.

Casa Loma College PTA Program

Casa Loma College’s PTA Program, directed by Dr. David Pevsner, graduated its first class of 13 in January 2014 with 63 graduates following in the years since. The PTA Program boasts over an 80% job placement rate in its last five (5) graduating classes. This accomplishment is credited to our Program Director, Clinical Team and faculty members who guide students through this elite program, help them prep for licensing exams and remain in touch as they become professionals in the field.

If you want to gain the knowledge and experience you need to work as a PTA, Casa Loma College is the place for you.