How to Become a Pelvic Health Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA)

Career Development,


Pelvic health issues are prevalent and affect individuals of all ages and genders. The demand for specialized care in this field is on the rise. If you're interested in making a significant impact on people's lives and empowering them to overcome pelvic health challenges, consider becoming a Pelvic Health Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA). In this brief guide, we'll explore the steps you need to take to pursue this fulfilling career.

  1. Understanding the Role of a Pelvic Health Physical Therapist Assistant

Before you dive into this career path, it's crucial to understand the role of a pelvic health Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA). PTAs are educated and licensed clinicians who provide care under the direction
and supervision of a physical therapist to assist in treating conditions related to the abdominal and pelvic regions. They play a crucial role in helping patients with issues like incontinence, pelvic pain, sexual dysfunction, and more. To gain a deeper insight into this field, consider reaching out to experienced Pelvic Health PTAs or early-professional Pelvic Health PTAs through professional networks or associations like the Academy of Pelvic Health Physical Therapy.

American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) defines Physical Therapist Assistants:

“Physical therapist assistants (PTAs) are educated and licensed clinicians that work under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist to improve your mobility and help you move forward. PTAs must complete rigorous academic and clinical education associate degree programs; pass a national licensure examination; and be licensed or certified by the states in which they work (the exception is Hawaii, where there is no licensure/certification for PTAs). Working closely with the physical therapist, they may provide components of your care such as therapeutic exercise, functional training, deep soft tissue massage, and physical modalities such as electrotherapy and ultrasound. PTAs may also provide instruction in exercise, proper body mechanics, and other injury prevention and wellness topics. PTAs work with physical therapists to treat patients of all ages who have medical problems or other conditions that limit their abilities to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives. They work in all settings, including hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, home health agencies, schools, sports and fitness facilities, work settings, and nursing homes.”

Reference: accessed 12-18-15

An additional resource regarding appropriate PTA practice:

  1. Pursue an Associate's Degree

The first step on your journey to becoming a Pelvic Health PTA is to obtain an associate's degree as a physical therapist assistant. This program will equip you with the fundamental knowledge and skills required for this role.

  1. Clinical Education and Licensing

Following your PTA associate's degree, you'll need to complete clinical education requirements. These hands-on experiences are essential for developing your skills and understanding of the role. After your clinical education is completed and you’ve graduated, you must pass the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE) for Physical Therapist Assistants to become a licensed PTA.

  1. Gain Clinical Experience

Once you're a licensed PTA, it's time to gain clinical experience in general physical therapy. This will help you develop foundational skills in patient assessment, treatment planning, and working effectively with patients under the guidance of experienced physical therapists. Look for opportunities in various healthcare settings, such as hospitals, rehabilitation centers, or private practices.

  1. Specialize in Pelvic Health

To become a PTA in the pelvic health physical therapy field, you'll need to specialize in this field. This typically involves additional coursework and training. Seek programs and continuing education courses accredited by professional organizations like the Academy of Pelvic Health Physical Therapy. Read the Physical Therapist Assistant Education Position Statement

What Can a Physical Therapist Assistant Do?

The Academy offers the following recommendations for interventions that may be suitably delegated. Please note that these suggestions do not replace or supersede PTA licensure rules and regulations, nor are they intended to be an exhaustive list. Instead, view this list as a valuable resource for fostering collaboration between physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapist assistants (PTAs) in the field of pelvic health:

  • Biofeedback intervention and progression

  • Electrical stimulation intervention for the pelvic floor

  • Internal pelvic floor muscle techniques that do not require ongoing assessment and evaluation

  • External pelvic floor muscle, core and lower extremity exercises

  • Education of pelvic floor muscle home exercise program

  • Interventions with vaginal weights, wands, or exercisers 

  • Behavioral intervention for bowel and bladder conditions

  • Internal pelvic floor tests and measures

  1. Networking and Continued Education

Joining professional organizations, like the Academy of Pelvic Health Physical Therapy, and networking with fellow Pelvic Health PTAs and physical therapists, can help you stay updated with the latest research, techniques, and industry trends. In the field of physical therapy, continuous education is vital to provide the best care to your patients. Maintain your PTA license by fulfilling any CEU (Continuing Education Units) requirements mandated by your state. 

  1. Promote the Profession and Community Engagement

Volunteering for a professional association or community organization related to abdominal and pelvic health physical therapy not only enhances your career but also contributes to the advancement of the profession. Active participation allows you to advocate for improved patient care, research opportunities, and professional development. Your dedication to the profession can lead to positive changes, benefiting both practitioners and patients. Together, as a community, we can advance and strive for better patient outcomes and a healthier society.

Becoming a Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) specializing in pelvic health is a fulfilling journey that involves dedication, education, and ongoing professional development. Your expertise will empower you to make a significant difference in the lives of those struggling with pelvic health issues. By following these steps, you can embark on a rewarding career path in this crucial and growing field of physical therapy.