Physical therapy professional manipulating a woman's neck and shoulders

6 Ways PTAs Can Address Women’s Health Issues

How to Maximize Your Impact as a Women’s Health PTA

Physical therapy professional manipulating a woman's neck and shoulders

As our understanding of women’s health has advanced over the years, physical therapy has increasingly become part of a multifaceted care plan for many women. Physical therapy can be incredibly effective in treating many different women’s health issues and in encouraging an all-around healthy lifestyle.

Physical therapist assistants who specialize in women’s health and pelvic floor issues can make a major difference in the lives of their patients, thanks to their hands-on therapeutic skills and ability to communicate with their patients and other healthcare providers. PTAs work closely with physical therapists to help carry out each patient’s treatment plan, monitor their progress, and provide patients with valuable education, encouragement, and empathy.

If you’re considering training as a physical therapist assistant and passionate about women’s health issues, becoming a women’s health PTA could be an excellent fit for a fulfilling career. In the paragraphs to come, we’ll take a closer look at some of the specific ways PTAs can address women’s health issues, both inside and outside of the physical therapy clinic.

Looking to learn more about what it takes to become a women’s health PTA? Check out our detailed guide on how to become a women’s health physical therapist assistant.

1. Holistic Health Education and Promotion

The old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” applies to just about every area of medicine, and women’s health is no exception. Healthy living habits, regular screenings, and preventive measures are one of the best ways to avoid or minimize a massive range of health issues.

One of the most important parts of a PTA’s job is educating people about steps they can take to encourage all-around wellness. Whether it’s in one-on-one sessions with their patients or by participating in seminars or community outreach events, PTAs can promote healthier living by teaching women about essential topics like nutrition, exercise, proper sleep, and how to manage their mental health.

Building healthy habits can prevent many forms of injury and disease, including women’s health issues. It also makes people more resilient when they encounter health problems. Physical therapist assistants often provide women with tools to help improve their health literacy, including pamphlets, printouts, and online or community resources.

2. Tailored Exercise Programs

Physical activity is another one of the best things anyone can do for their health. In collaboration with their supervising therapist, women’s health PTAs help design exercise programs tailored to the needs of their patients. A great PTA will take into account someone’s age, health status, medical history, and current fitness level to design a sustainable program that’s appropriate for their circumstances.

Exercise routines assigned by a PTA may be focused on general fitness and strength training to reduce the risk of conditions like osteoporosis that disproportionately affect women. They may also include targeted movements to treat common women’s health issues like urinary incontinence or other forms of pelvic floor dysfunction. By teaching their patients how to perform exercises properly and inspiring them to stay consistent, PTAs can help women make drastic improvements in their daily comfort, confidence, and long-term health.

3. Rehabilitation Support for Women’s Health Conditions

Several health conditions that are unique to women can be significantly improved through regular physical therapy sessions. Pelvic floor issues are common among women and can lead to recurring discomfort or difficulty controlling one’s bodily functions. Women who receive treatment for breast cancer may also deal with pain or limited range of motion. Chronic conditions like endometriosis can also lead to pelvic pain that can be mitigated by physical therapy.

Women’s health PTAs can help address all of these issues through hands-on techniques like massage, stretching, and targeted movements, plus other treatment modalities like heat and cold therapy, electrical stimulation, or ultrasound. While every patient’s prognosis and treatment plan will look a little different, physical therapist assistants help many women make major strides in rehabilitating health issues that can significantly impact their quality of life.

Close up of a pregnant woman in physical therapy

4. Pre- and Post-Natal Care

Expecting mothers and women who recently had a baby can both be prone to certain health issues that can be mitigated with the help of a physical therapist assistant. Before their baby is born, many pregnant women experience pelvic girdle pain or low back pain due to the extra weight of the child they’re carrying. PTAs can help with postural training to optimize body mechanics and minimize discomfort, and manual therapy can be used to address any problem areas. Proactively training pelvic floor muscles before childbirth can also lead to an easier delivery and minimize problems like urinary incontinence.

After their baby is delivered, physical therapy also helps many women manage the aftereffects of childbirth. Manual therapy can be effective in breaking up scar tissue after a C-section, and targeted exercises can help stabilize the pelvic floor muscles and prevent prolapse, incontinence, or other common issues. PTAs may also help women establish routines to rehabilitate their core strength and overall function, as it’s common for abdominal muscles to separate during pregnancy.

5. Advocacy and Community Engagement

While women’s health PTAs regularly make a difference in the lives of their patients, their influence can extend far beyond the physical therapy clinic. As trained healthcare providers, physical therapist assistants can and should use their voice and influence to affect positive change— particularly in the area of women’s health, which is still poorly understood by many policymakers and a large portion of the general public.

PTAs can become advocates for community health by getting involved with local organizations and volunteer events and by organizing with other healthcare professionals to magnify their impact on legislators and policymakers. By promoting access to women’s health care in their community, physical therapist assistants can help address healthcare disparities and create a healthier future for everyone.

6. Collaboration With Healthcare Providers

Top-notch patient care is a team sport, and PTAs can make a real difference for their patients by collaborating effectively with their supervising physical therapist and other healthcare professionals. Women’s health issues like menopause or chronic pelvic pain are best handled with a multidisciplinary approach, so PTAs must be able to work well with other providers like nurses, physicians, occupational therapists, or mental health professionals.

Consider a new mother who may be experiencing physical symptoms as well as postpartum depression in the aftermath of giving birth. In addition to guiding the patient through their physical therapy treatment plan, PTAs and their supervising therapist are likely to work in tandem with the patient’s gynecologist and a social worker or another counselor.

Whether referring patients to another provider or carefully documenting their symptoms and progress to ensure continuity of care, PTAs with stellar collaboration skills can help their patients achieve the best possible outcome for their health circumstances.

Close up of a woman in physical therapy

Begin Your PTA Journey at Provo College

Adequately addressing women’s health issues requires a multifaceted and multidisciplinary approach, and PTAs are an essential piece of the puzzle. Their empathy and attention to detail help countless women find life-changing relief from many different health issues. Just as importantly, their outreach and advocacy efforts are critical in improving health equity for women all over the world.

If you want to maximize your impact as a women’s health PTA, the physical therapist assistant program at Provo College is an excellent place to start. You’ll receive a well-rounded education from experienced instructors, and master the therapeutic and soft skills you need to advocate for your patients in the clinic and beyond. And with a flexible hybrid program that makes it possible to graduate within two years, your new career could be closer than you think.

Curious about some of the other available PTA specialties outside of women’s health? Explore our list of the top 8 physical therapist assistant jobs.