Physical Therapist Assistant
St. Catherine University’s Physical Therapy Assistant department promotes a supportive yet challenging environment that encourages reflective thinking, questioning, decision-making and personal growth. Consideration is given to individual differences in learning style through varied learning methodologies. The PTA program faculty are committed to the concept of adult learning where instructors serve as facilitators of the process of learning, not solely as dispensers of knowledge. The PTA department affirms that is the instructor's responsibility to create an environment that stimulates student learning, provides timely feedback, and seeks to support students to realize their full potential. Within this environment, students are expected to accept the responsibility to be an active participant in the learning experience.
Students receive an educational foundation in the liberal arts and sciences as well as in the professional discipline to become effective physical therapy assistants. The department prepares students to master complex intervention and assessment skills while viewing themselves and the people with whom they work as multi-faceted human beings affected by spiritual, physical, psychological and sociological influences. This perspective encourages students to broaden their understanding of themselves, the profession of physical therapy and the world in which they live.
Graduates of St. Catherine University's PTA program will be competent generalists and continuing learners, capable of being contributing members and leaders within the physical therapy profession and their community.
PTA 1010 Patient Handling Techniques — 2 credits
This course offers the learner opportunities to build a base of knowledge of normal joint motion and positions as a basis for application of patient handling techniques such as manual and mechanical lifting, wheelchair transfers, ace wrapping, and passive range of motion exercises. The concepts related to the delivery of a physical therapy intervention are proposed to the learner to incorporate into their approach to delivery of care. The principles of assuring patient and care giver safety are put forward to provide the learner guidance; these principles include infection control, wheelchairs (prescription and accessibility), aseptic technique, body mechanics, wound care and the monitoring of vital signs. The application of principles and techniques occur in lecture and laboratory settings.
PTA 1020 Physical Therapy Intervention Techniques — 2 credits
This course offers the learner opportunities to build a base of knowledge of the physical and physiological principles related to thermotherapy, cryotherapy, hydrotherapy, mechanical pressure, radiant therapy and massage. The principles related to the delivery of the physical therapy interventions in all of these categories are proposed to the learner to incorporate into their approach to delivery of care with emphasis on communication of appropriate information to the patient/client (i.e. rationale related to diagnosis, physiological effects, contraindications). Students are provided the support necessary to learn and demonstrate competency including the delivery of hydrocollator packs, cold packs and ice massage, paraffin bath, whirlpool for the treatment of a wound, ultrasound, diathermy, and massage. The application of principles and techniques occur in lecture and laboratory settings.
Prerequisite: PTA 1010.
PTA 1040 Musculoskeletal Anatomy and Measurement Techniques — 3 credits
Throughout this course, students will be invited to delve into the world of bones and muscles and learn how they function in the human body. Included in this content are bony landmarks, basic neuroanatomy as it relates to muscle function, muscle attachments, innervation and actions. Specific skills taught and evaluated for competency include palpation of muscles, ligaments and bony landmarks, goniometry and manual muscle testing. By course end, students will have the foundation needed to understand how the body musculature and bones move and how that information is necessary to know and apply in the field of physical therapy. The application of principles and techniques occur in lecture and laboratory settings.
PTA 1050 Orientation To Physical Therapy/ Role Of The Physical Therapist Assistant — 2 credits
This course introduces students to the health care system and the roles of the physical therapist and physical therapist assistant within that system. Students will learn about the responsibilities of the physical therapist and physical therapist assistant as members of a professional team, the use of communication, documentation and evidence-based practice in physical therapy, and an overview of the ethical and legal framework in which physical therapy is provided. In this course, students will develop a greater awareness of the philosophical and psychosocial aspects of delivering physical therapy interventions, and an understanding of how values, culture, attitudes and expectations impact the relationships between PTs and PTAs, and between PTs/PTAs and patients. A three-day introductory clinical experience will allow students to apply these concepts via supervised interaction with patients, physical therapy clinicians and other health care providers. The class will involve class discussions, small group exercises and role plays, with a minimum amount of content delivered in a traditional lecture format.
PTA 1140 Kinesiology Principles with Clinical Application — 1 credit
This course offers the learner the opportunity to integrate the study of bones, joints, muscles, connective tissue and nerves into a functional model of biomechanical application to patient care. The study of movement as it applies to the major joint complexes of the upper and lower extremities will be emphasized. Kinesiology principles are proposed to the learner to build onto the base of knowledge previously learned in anatomy class. Students have the opportunity to choose appropriate exercises and determine when and how to progress exercises for common musculoskeletal conditions. They are provided the support necessary to learn and demonstrate competency in clinical application of kinesiology principles in the form of exercise. In addition, students learn how to write a research paper relating to a musculoskeletal condition of their choice. The application of principles and techniques occur in lecture and laboratory settings.
Prerequisites: PTA 1020, PTA 1040, PTA 1050.
PTA 1160 Physical Therapy Intervention Techniques II — 5 credits
This course offers the learner opportunities to build a base of knowledge of principles about the following topics. 1) The anatomy and physiology of the musculoskeletal system and how it is affected by pathology with an emphasis on normal joint movement and the impact of trauma, degenerative diseases, and acute and chronic conditions. The rationale and types of physical therapy interventions for typical orthopedic conditions are discussed. 2) The physiology of exercise and neuroanatomy as a foundation for therapeutic exercise and physical therapy intervention techniques. 3) The theory, principles and technical skills of electrotherapy modalities including direct current, pulsatile currents, iontophoresis, and biofeedback. 4) The application of soft tissue mobilization and alternatives and variations in soft tissue techniques. The principles related to the delivery of the physical therapy interventions are proposed to the learner to incorporate into their approach to delivery of care with emphasis on communication of appropriate information to the patient/client (i.e. rationale related to diagnosis, physiological effects, contraindications). The application of principles and techniques occur in lecture and laboratory settings.
Prerequisites: PTA 1020, PTA 1040, PTA 1050.
PTA 1310 Clinical Experience I — 2 credits
A six week (20 hours per week) experience in the clinical setting providing opportunity for the student to begin development of observation, communication and reporting skills and to apply, under the supervision of a physical therapist, the principles and techniques that have been learned in the curriculum to this point. Clinical experiences will be performed in a variety of settings under the direction of clinical instructors (CIs) representing a diverse range of knowledge and experience.
Prerequisite: PTA 1350.
PTA 1350 Healthcare Delivery System — 1 credit
This course expands the students' understanding of the American health care system, and the social, political, and economic forces that continue to shape health care today. Course components include the basic structure of the health care system, recent initiatives for health care reform, billing and payment for physical therapy services, and assessment of quality in health care. Emphasis is on linking these components to the daily practice environment of health practitioners. Using the principles of Catholic Social Teaching, the Core Values of physical therapy, and the Standards of Ethical Conduct for the Physical Therapist Assistant, students will more clearly define their role as care providers and as advocates for patients and the profession.
Prerequisite: PTA 1160.
PTA 2000 Physical Therapy Intervention Techniques III — 8 credits
This course offers the learner opportunities to build a base of knowledge of principles related to: therapeutic exercise including the basic physiology of techniques and their application; equipment utilization, specific techniques and their application to patients with various disabilities; integration of manual muscle testing and goniometry relating to the PTA role in assisting with, recording and reading the results of these evaluation processes; study of the principles and techniques related to ambulation including measurement and fitting of ambulation aids; pre-ambulation exercise and mat programs; gait patterns and drills; study of normal posture and gait, commonly treated mobility disorders; implication of sensory and motor impairment on ambulation; study of the rationale for and specific techniques employed in the rehabilitation of persons with long term disabilities, i.e. hemiplegia, spinal cord injury, amputation, multiple sclerosis, traumatic injury and respiratory disease; study of the roles and goals of the "rehabilitation team" as individual specialists and team members; and introduction to orthotics and prosthetics. The application of principles and techniques occur in lecture and laboratory settings.
Prerequisites: PTA 1310, PTA 2020.
PTA 2010 Introductory Concepts in Pediatric Physical Therapy — 1 credit
This is an optional second year course in the PTA Program and is a prerequisite for special clinical experiences in pediatric physical therapy. Direct observation of pediatric clinical settings will be incorporated. Common pediatric disorders will be discussed and include the effects of the disorder and current rehabilitative management. The study of pediatric concepts will include optimal development as compared to non-optimal development. A knowledge base for intervention will be provided and will include handling techniques and physical management. Discussion of modulation of states, signs of self-regulation and distress will be included. The effect of disability on psychosocial status and communication skills used in interacting and teaching parents and children will be studied. Discussion of family, health and education issues, as well as payer sources, community resources and the need for referral will be incorporated. Discussion with a parent of a non-optimally developing child will also be included.
Prerequisites: PTA 1310, PTA 2020, program director approval.
PTA 2020 Advanced Geriatric Physical Therapy for the PTA — 1 credit
This blended course (combination of in-class sessions and online activity) is designed to give students more in-depth knowledge of the physiological and psychological aspects of normal and pathological aging. In addition, the socioeconomic and cultural aspects of aging and their impact on rehabilitation will be discussed. The primary goal of this course is to help PTA students recognize how and why physical therapy practice may need modification when working with geriatric clients and to assist the student in eliminating biases about working with this group of clients, especially those who live in the skilled nursing facility setting. The course utilizes lecture, discussion, audiovisual materials, guest speakers, reading assignments, worksheets and group presentations to promote learning. It is expected that students will share their own experiences of interacting with the elderly, both in and out of health care, to help broaden the experience of their classmates.
Prerequisite: PTA 1350.
PTA 2100 Clinical Experience II — 3 credits
This course is a 6 week full-time experience in the clinical setting using skills acquired throughout the program, with special emphasis on those skills learned most recently and relating to the rehabilitation process. Clinical experiences will be performed in a variety of settings under the direction of clinical instructors (CIs) representing a diverse range of knowledge and experience. The purpose of the course is to provide the student with full-time hands-on practice in a physical therapy department, encouraging integration of previous classroom knowledge. It promotes the student's understanding of the health-care system, allows the student to participate as an active, cooperative member of the health care team, and encourages development of an ethical, holistic practitioner with regard for the whole person in all interactions.
Prerequisite: PTA 2000.
PTA 2200 Clinical Experience III — 4 credits
This course provides six weeks additional experience in the clinical setting for further integration and refinement of technical and interpersonal skills. Clinical experiences will be performed in a variety of settings under the direction of clinical instructors (CIs) representing a diverse range of knowledge and experience. Students are expected to utilize clinical decision-making strategies, problem-solving skills and effective communication toward the goal of functioning as an entry-level member of the health care team. Students write a reflective paper on how their “real-life” experiences compared to their expectations going into the clinical. Classroom discussion sessions may relate to clinical issues, ethics and the student’s subjective response to interactions in the clinical setting, or other related topics as determined by the DCE. The student is provided full-time hands-on practice in a physical therapy department, encouraging integration of previous classroom knowledge. It promotes the student's understanding of the health-care system, allows the student to participate as an active, cooperative member of the health care team, and encourages development of an ethical, holistic practitioner with regard for the whole person in all interactions.
Prerequisite: PTA 2100.
PTA 2260 Learning and Service Through Immersion — 1 credit
This is a three week course with a focus on experiential learning in community settings that include vulnerable or underserved populations and/or lack of access to comprehensive health care services. The length of the immersion experience into the community may vary depending on the location of the course. Students will be exposed to an interdisciplinary experience with the participating doctor of physical therapy students. Students will participate in preparatory and reflection activities prior to, during and following the immersion experience.
Prerequisite: PTA 2200 or instructor approval.
PTA 2270 Specialized Clinical Experience — 1 credit
This three-week, full-time elective clinical experience is designed for students who have a strong interest in expanding their knowledge base and/or pursuing future career opportunities in a specialized clinical setting. The purpose of this clinical experience is for students to gain a greater familiarity with how their previously-mastered skills, techniques and generic abilities are utilized in working with a unique focus and/or clientele. Through observation and participation in direct hands-on patient care, documentation and discussion with physical therapy staff, students will increase their understanding of the unique nature of the particular setting. They will also gain a greater self-awareness of their individual ability to be successful in that chosen specialty area.
Prerequisite: PTA 2200 or approval of instructor. Additional prerequisite if clinical experience is in a pediatric setting: PTA 2010.
PTA 2400 Capstone Seminar — 1 credit
This three week seminar provides a capstone experience for students to reflect and explore the application of the common elements of the PTA program’s curriculum; including themes of ethical decision-making, critical-thinking, understanding the patient/client as a whole, collaborative and applied learning, and leadership. Special emphasis is placed on ethical frameworks, spirituality and its role in healing, principles of Catholic social teaching and the Physical Therapy Core Values. Preparation for entering the physical therapy clinical community includes preparation for the licensure exam and emphasis on professionalism, leadership behaviors and life-long learning. The completion and presentation of the final research project and a final program comprehensive exam are included in this course.
Prerequisite: PTA 2260 or PTA 2270 or instructor permission.
PTA 2681 Directed Study — 1 credit
Directed study is provided for students whose unusual circumstances prohibit taking a regularly scheduled course but who need the material of that course to satisfy a requirement. Availability of this faculty-directed learning experience depends on faculty time and may be limited in any given term and restricted to certain courses.
Prerequisites: Faculty, department chair and dean approval.