The Home Health Physical Therapist and Physical Therapist Assistant

Many home health physical therapists and physical therapist assistants find it rewarding to help people reclaim their lives and their routines in the places where they live. If you ask a home health PT or PTA, he or she will probably tell you that it can be difficult in the clinic to identify the functional goals and outcomes that will best ensure improvement in the patient's quality of life. However, when a physical therapist or physical therapist assistant is in the home of someone with a physical impairment, he or she can see right away the kinds of goals that need to be accomplished.  
PTs and PTAs who choose to practice in home health often describe themselves as having a greater sense of autonomy, uninterrupted one-on-one time with patients, and deep appreciation from patients and their families.
A patient’s first visit by a home health PT will include an evaluation. He or she will perform an examination to identify current and potential problems. Based on the results of the examination, and considering specific goals, the physical therapist will design a plan of care to include specific interventions and will propose a timetable to achieve these goals and optimize function. The physical therapist will likely provide the patient with instructions to perform exercises to facilitate recovery.

A Closer Look at Home Health Physical Therapy

Home health care is the provision of skilled therapy services in the patient’s place of residence. While the majority of patients are senior citizens, there also are pediatric patients with developmental disabilities and other conditions, and individuals of all ages in between who need rehabilitation because of injury or other causes. Home care may actually be provided in the patient’s residence, the caregiver’s home, a hospital emergency room, skilled nursing facility, residential facility, group home, hospice, or elsewhere in the community.
The following are health conditions commonly seen in home health: 
  • Total joint replacements
  • Fractures
  • CVA
  • Progressive neurological conditions
  • Fall risk
  • Dementia
  • Chronic pain
  • Incontinence
  • Wounds
  • COPD
  • Heart Failure
Skills used by a physical therapist in home health include: 
  • Gait training
  • Transfer training
  • Home exercise program development
  • Home exit management
  • Fall prevention
  • Progressive resistive exercises
  • Pain management
  • Incontinence treatment
  • Wound care
  • Neuropathy treatment