Physical Agents Syllabus for 2021-2022
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Instructor Information

Office Location

West Campus, Room 118

Office Hours

11 AM to 12 PM, Wednesday

Course Information

COVID-19 Protocols

Recording Policy

Disability Statement

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As a student you may experience a range of issues that can cause barriers to learning, such as strained relationships, increased anxiety, alcohol/drug problems, feeling down, difficulty concentrating and/or lack of motivation. These mental health concerns or stressful events may lead to diminished academic performance or reduce a student's ability to participate in daily activities. Amarillo College offers services to assist you with addressing these and other concerns you may be experiencing. If you or someone you know are suffering from any of the aforementioned conditions, you can learn more about the broad range of confidential mental health services available on campus by calling the AC Counseling Center at 806-371-5900. The AC Counseling Center website is . Also, if you are in need of social services (affordable housing, utilities, transportation, food, clothing, childcare, medical/dental/vision, legal), please call the AC Advocacy & Resource Center at 806-371-5439. The AC Advocacy & Resource Center website is

Amarillo College Tutoring for Success Policy:

The Tutoring for Success policy applies to any student whose grade or performance in the course falls below a departmentally determined minimum threshold. In either of those cases, the instructor will direct the student to the appropriate tutoring service, which may be faculty-led, discipline-specific, and/or general. Under this policy, the instructor will follow specific departmental guidelines governing the use, duration, and grade component of the tutoring need.

Administrative Drop Policy

Students who do not attend class on or prior to the census date will be administratively dropped. Effective Fall, 2016

Student Withdrawal Procedures

Students who wish to withdraw from a course must complete all steps indicated on the Academic Withdrawal Request form by the course withdrawal deadline.

NOTE: Students who are attending Texas institutions of higher education, for the first time fall 2007 and later, may not withdraw from more than six courses during their academic career. This withdrawal limitation does not include dual credit or developmental classes (Senate Bill 1231 Rule 4.10.) For more information on Drop and Withdrawal Policies, please visit the Registrar's Office Web site.

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PTHA-1431-001 Physical Agents


Prerequisites: PTHA 1413, PTHA 1301, and PTHA 1405 Corequisites: BIOL 2402, PTHA 2301, and PTHA 2409

Course Description

Biophysical principles, physiological effects, efficacy and application of physical agents.

Student ResourcesStudent Resources Website

Department Expectations

Occupational License Disclaimer

Notice to Students enrolled in an educational program for preparation of issuance of certain occupational licenses:

Students enrolled in an educational program in preparation for obtaining certain occupational licenses are potentially ineligible for such license if the student has been convicted of an offense. For further information, please contact:

Melodie Graves
Justice Involved Advocate
Student Service Center 117
Make appointment at

You can also contact the Legal Clinic, or the faculty member in charge of the educational program that you seek to enroll in. The further information you will receive will include notification to you of your right to request a criminal history evaluation letter from the licensing authority in order to clarify your particular situation.


(4 sem hrs; 3 lec, 3 lab)

Class Type

On Campus Course

Syllabus Information



Cameron M. Physical Agents in Rehabilitation: An Evidence-Based Approach to Practice 5th Ed., 2018.

ADDITIONAL TEXTS FROM PREVIOUS COURSES: (These will be integrated into the course.)

Neumman D. Kinesiology of the Musculoskeletal System, Foundations for Rehabilitation, 3rd ed. Elsevier, 2017.

Reichert B. Palpation Techniques: Surface Anatomy for Physical Therapists, 2nd ed. Thieme, 2015.

Access to the AC Library Ebooks as detailed in Reading Assignments


Student Performance

General Considerations for Physical Agents

  1. Demonstrate appropriate teaching strategies for patient-centered instruction regarding disease/condition, treatment interventions, and HEP in a role-play situation.
  2. Demonstrate the ability to implement and modify a treatment session based on patient status within bio-psychosocial and ICF (International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health) models as described in the physical therapist’s plan of care by communicating the rationale for the modifications to the physical therapist.
  3. Apply current knowledge, theory, and clinical judgment while considering appropriate physical agents for a patient as described on the plan of care established by the physical therapist.
  4. Integrate appropriate evidence based resources to support clinical decision making for modality choices for the patient within the physical therapist’s plan of care.
  5. Identify normal and abnormal integumentary changes associated with physical agents.
  6. Demonstrate the ability to competently assess a patient for absent or altered sensation before applying physical agent modalities.
  7. Demonstrate proper draping techniques to enhance patient privacy while utilizing physical agent modalities.
  8. Recognize activities that aggravate or relieve edema, pain, dyspnea, or other symptoms (ventilation, respiration, and circulation examination).
  9. Recognize when an intervention should not be provided due to changes in the patient’s status, and communicate these changes to the physical therapist.
  10. Recognizes when performance of an intervention is beyond the scope of practice or skill of a physical therapist assistant.
  11. Identify the indications, contraindications, and precautions of using the following physical therapy interventions:
    1. Direct contact, immersion and ultrasound
    2. Hydrotherapy (whirlpool, aquatic pool)
    3. Compression therapies (Intermittent Compression, Game Ready)
    4. Hot packs
    5. Cold packs and ice massage
    6. Paraffin
    7. Phonophoresis and Iontophoresis
    8. Contrast baths/pack
    9. Lumbar traction
    10. Cervical traction
    11. Laser/Ultraviolet/Infrared
    12. Diathermy
    13. Fluidotherapy
  12. Demonstrate the ability to competently perform the following physical therapy interventions:
    1. Direct contact, immersion and ultrasound
    2. Compression therapies (Intermittent Compression)
    3. Hot packs
    4. Cold packs and ice massage
    5. Paraffin
    6. Phonophoresis and Iontophoresis
    7. Lumbar traction
    8. Cervical traction
  13. Identify the indications, contraindications, and precautions for performing the following electrotherapy interventions:
    1. TENS
    2. Interferential Current
    3. Biofeedback
    4. NMES
    5. Iontophoresis
    6. High Volt
  14. Demonstrate the ability to competently perform the following electrotherapy interventions:
    1. TENS
    2. Interferential Current
    3. NMES
    4. High Volt
  15. Compare the mechanisms of heat transfer and how they apply to the application of physical agents.
  16. Identify the laws of physics related to the use of physical agents.
  17. Identify the physical principles of water related to aquatic therapy.
  18. Design a treatment session from within the physical therapist’s plan of care for a patient treated in a therapeutic pool.
  19. Recognize common treatment goals for the application of biophysical agents.
  20. Describe the rationale for the selection of physical agents based on clinical goals and patient responses.
  21. Identify the appropriate parameters required to accomplish specific treatment goals with utilizing physical agents.
  22. Describe potential adverse responses to the application of a physical agent.
  23. Accurately compose a SOAP note summarizing a treatment session utilizing a physical agent.
  24. Describe the properties of electricity, (including conductance, resistance, and capacitance), related to the application for electrotherapy.
  25. Compare the physiological effects of different physical agents.
  26. Identify the indications, contraindications, and precautions for performing therapeutic massage and soft tissue mobilization techniques.
  27. Compare the physiological effects of different massage techniques and soft tissue mobilization techniques.
  28. Demonstrate the ability to competently perform therapeutic massage.
  29. Identify the mechanisms of pain reception and transmission according to various theories.
  30. Discuss pain management with physical agents, exercise, and pharmacological approaches.
  31. Identify tissues and patterns which are typical causes of motion restrictions.
  32. Recognize activities, positioning, and postures that aggravate, relieve pain or alter sensations.
  33. Exlain the healing stages in musculoskeletal and neurological disorders.

Students Rights and Responsibilities

Student Rights and Responsibilities

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Expected Student Behavior

Expected Student Behavior


Students shall read the Amarillo College "Student Rights and Responsibilities" information with emphasis placed on the Academic Information, Student Conduct and Responsibilities, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Education/Prevention Program sections.

Students will not use cell phones in the classroom, unless the instructor allows use for a specific activity. All such devices must be placed on silent mode and kept stored. If a student expects that there may be some type of emergency situation, the student should inform the instructor prior to the beginning of class. Unauthorized use of cell phones in class will result in the student being asked to leave the class and being counted absent for the lecture/lab.

Student participation is a required element during Lecture and Lab classes. If a student refuses to participate actively or is disengaged in a discussion or activity, the student may be asked to leave class and will be counted absent for the day. Students do have the right to refuse the application of any specific treatment or activity for medical or personal reasons. This does not constitute a reason for absence from class. Alternate activities or assignments will be required.

Students in the PTA Program are expected to dress conservatively and professionally, as expected in the clinic.  Upon request of the faculty, the student will attend class in professional dress including black, navy, or khaki pants and cobalt blue polo shirt with the PTA logo.  Clean, closed-toe, closed-heel shoes with non-slip soles in good condition should be worn during all class and lab activities. Amarillo College Badge/ID's should also be worn during all off-campus class and clinical activities.

Jewelry and cologne are to be kept to a minimum. All jewelry should be conservative and limited to a minimal amount. The student's professional dress is subject to approval by the course instructor. If professional dress code is not followed, the student may not be able to participate in the scheduled activity, may receive a grade penalty for the day, and/or may not have the option to makeup the assignment. This decision is at the discretion of the instructor. Students may be required to cover any visible tattoo, remove any nail treatment, or change hair management when participating in clinical assignments in compliance with the individual institution's dress code in order to attend the clinical assignment.

Courtesy and respect are expected between the student and instructor. Students are expected to be attentive to instructor, guests, and other students during presentations. Students are required to extend highest respect to patients/clients/others when making off-campus contact. Lack of regard to this expectation at any time by any single student or group of students may result in immediate dismissal of the student/s from the situation by the instructor, guest lecturer, or patient/client/other.

Dishonesty in the classroom or in completing any assignment will not be tolerated. Students demonstrating academic dishonesty as defined in the "Student Rights and Responsibilities" publication will receive a grade of "F" in the course and will be subject to all PTA Program policies regarding course failure.

Student Grievance: A student who has an issue with the course or course instructor should make every attempt to resolve the problem with the course instructor. If that is not successful, the student may appeal the decision of the instructor to the program director, Allied Health Dean, Dean of Instruction, and the Amarillo College President - IN THAT ORDER.


Grading Criteria

Attendance, Assignments, and In-Class Quizzes                            5%

Research Presentation                                                                          5%

Lecture Exams2                                                                                                                50%

Final Exam3                                                                                                                         20%

Practicals4                                                                                             20%

1Assignments and quizzes will be completed within the classroom or lab meeting or submitted within the time frame designated by the due date. This average will include the attendance score and will result a numerical grade. LATE COMPLETION OR LATE SUBMISSION WILL RESULT IN A "0" GRADE. 

2The lecture exam grades will be averaged for the lecture exam portion (50%) of the final grade. The instructor has the sole responsibility to determine if dropping the lowest performance for final calculation of course grade.

3The final exam is comprehensive for the semester and is not eligible to be dropped even if it is the lowest grade performance.

4The student must successfully pass all practicals.
Students who do not meet minimum proficiencies and achieve a grade of 76 during the lab practicals will be given one opportunity to re-test as soon as possible based on the instructor's schedule. The highest grade which can be granted for a re-test is 76 and the student must obtain at least a score of 76. Please note that failure of the second attempt for a practical results in failure of the class and dismissal from the program.

The students are required to achieve all course objections and demonstrate proficiency in ALL critical safety elements and performing modalities before being allowed to pass the course. 

Any student scoring a 79 or lower on an exam or practical is REQUIRED to contact the instructor to discuss remediation. IT IS THE STUDENT’S RESPONSIBILITY TO SCHEDULE THIS SESSION. The student will be required to schedule and attend tutoring at one of AC’s tutoring centers. Locations for tutoring can be found at The required number of tutoring sessions will be determined at the discretion of the instructor. The student will be required to bring verification of attendance at tutoring to the instructor.

enlightenedGRADING SCALE:
A = 100-92
B = <92-83.5
C = <83.5-76
F = <76-0

Note: A grade of C or better is required to complete the PTA major.

MAKE-UP POLICY: There will be NO make-ups on quizzes or assignments. If the student has an excused absence as determined by the instructor, the instructor may exempt the grade from course grade calculation. Make-up tests and practicals will be scheduled at the mutual convenience of the student and instructor as soon as possible. The make-up exam may vary in format from the original exam. A penalty of 5 points will be applied if the absence from the exam date was not excused.



ATTENDANCE: Regular attendance is necessary for satisfactory achievement. Therefore, the student is responsible for class attendance. The student is expected to be seated and prepared to begin class at the designated time. At the beginning of each lecture and lab, attendance will be recorded by the instructor or a sign-in sheet will be available.  

Each absence in lecture or lab classes results in a grade of "0" for attendance in the gradebook; likewise, a tardy (more than 10 minutes) results  in a grade of "50" in the gradebook. Timely attendance results in a "100."  Habitual late arrivals (more than 3) below the 10-minute penalty mark, extended breaks during class, or leaving class early are disruptive to the class and will be addressed by the instructor and may result in additional penalties.  The attendance grade is calculated in the course grade as weighted by the instructor. 

Full attendance of class time is also expected. A student may be counted as "absent" if the student is out of class more than 20 minutes of a class time. For example, if in any given day a student arrives 15 minutes late to class, takes an extra 5 minutes for break and leaves class for 5 minutes for any reason (phone calls, appointments, bathroom breaks, illness), that is considered an "absence" for the day. This type of absence counts in the total number of absences resulting in lowering of the final course grade. This is determined at the discretion of the instructor.

If a student is asked to leave a class due to disruption or lack of participation, the student will be counted absent for that entire class.

enlightenedThe rules above apply to all unplanned and unexcused absences. Prior approval of absences and approval of excused absence are solely at the discretion of the faculty based on the circumstances and reasons for absence. Written validation is required for any absence that is considered excused and exempt from this policy.  Excused absences are allowed in the following circumstances: campus directed quarantine through the health services of AC, personal illness supported by a primary health care provider's note or excuse, and death or funeral within immediate family. Other circumstances may be considered for approval upon submission of a written request by the student. This will be determined by the instructor, the program director, or an ad hoc committee of the 2 or 3 faculty members.  

Following an absence, the student is responsible for obtaining missed notes/assignments/copies of handouts, etc. from classmates. The student is also responsible for obtaining any needed clarification of missed information from the course instructor.

The purpose of the remote access to class is directed toward the person placed in quarantine or person with personal illness validated by documentation from a primary health care provider with full opportunities to complete quizzes and assignments due for that class period. Other students who are absent but do not meet the criteria for excused may participate in the class remotely but will obtain a "0" for any assignment or quiz during that session. 

When participating in an online virtual class, the student should be in a lighted quiet space with minimal distractions, preferably at a desk or table. The student should be in appropriate clothing for the classroom. The student's face should be visible on camera at all times with the microphones kept muted while verbal interaction is not required. Log in for the class on time and limit chat message to material relevant to class. 



Physical Agents (96 Contact hours)

Lecture Tuesday 12:30-3:30 pm Allied Health Rm 130

Lab- Thursday 8:00-11:00 Rm 165

enlightenedSpring 2022-Tentative schedule-Lead instructor reserves the right to make changes as necessary.    

Week  Lecture Lab Additional Information (Bring a computer and earphones to lab and lecture.)
Week 1 

Syllabus Review

Chapters 1, 2, & 3 from Cameron

Chapters 7, 8 & 17 from Vipula and Atula (eBooks through AC Library)

Lab orientation

Positioning and draping

Massage and Soft Tissue 

Class handouts will be given to supplement the text informaton on soft tissue mobilization and massage techniques.

Bring Reichert book to Lab.

Week 2  Chapters 4, 5, 6 from Cameron Massage and Soft Tissue Bring Reichert book to Lab.
Week 3 

Chapter 7 & 8 in Cameron

Application of Hot Packs, Ice packs, Ice Massage, Contrast baths, and Paraffin Bring Cameron book to Lab.
Week 4  Chapter 18 and 20 in Cameron Application of Compression and Hydrotherapy Bring Cameron book to lab.
Week 5 

frownExam 1 (90 minutes)

Lecture begins at 2:15 PM

Chapter 9 in Cameron

Application of Ultrasound and Skills Check for practical Bring Cameron book to lab.
Week 6  Chapter 9 and 10 in Cameron indecisionLab Practical #1 Bring Cameron book to lab.
Week 7

Chapter 11 and 12 in Cameron

Chapters 6, 11, & 12 from Vipula and Atula (eBooks through AC Library)

Application of Electrical Stimulation

Bring Cameron book to lab.
Week 8  Chapters 13 and 14 in Cameron Application of Electrical Stimulation Bring Cameron book to lab
Week 9 

frownExam 2 (90 minutes)

Lecture begins at 2:15

Chapter 15 in Cameron 

Application of Electrical Stimulation Bring Cameron book to Lab.
Week 10 Chapters 16 and 17  in Cameron indecisionLab Practical #2 Bring Cameron book to Lab.
Week 11

Chapter 19 in Cameron

Application of Laser and Light Therapy (IR, UV), Application of Traction  Bring Cameron book to Lab.
Week 12  Billing and Documentation Application of Laser and Light Therapy (IR, UV), Application of Traction; Skill Checks Bring Cameron book to Lab.
Week 13 Research Presentations

Practical Practice

Week 14

frownExam 3 (90 minutes)

Practical Practice and Skills Checks

indecisionLab Practical #3  
Week 15 Review Review  

frownPTHA Physical Agents Final 


8 to 11 AM

WC-D 104


Additional Information

ASSIGNMENTS: All assignments are due on the assigned due date and time.  NO LATE HOMEWORK OR QUIZ/ASSIGNMENT SUBMISSION WILL BE ACCEPTED.

REQUIRED READING: The student is expected to complete all reading assignments. All assigned material is considered testable information, however, may not be covered during lecture; therefore, it is the student’s responsibility to seek clarification of material with the instructor.

LAB DRESS CODE: Appropriate dress is required during scheduled lab times.

Females: shorts, halter or swimsuit top (fasteners need to be in the back), lab coats or sweat suits for a cover-up

Males: shorts, tee shirts, lab coats or sweat suits for a cover-up.

LAST DATE TO DROP/WITHDRAW: April 18, 2022  The student has the responsibility to analyze the current status of the lecture exam average and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of withdrawal and subsequent options of resuming studies.

Instructional aids: use of equipment, handouts, electronic media

Instructional methods: lecture and lab, demonstration and return demonstration

SAFETY PROCEDURES: In case of an emergency, the student needs to call the Safety and Security department at 9-371-5163.  In an emergency situation, use the nearest phone that is available.  The student should also know in case of a medical emergency, the following procedure should be performed and in the order written:

  1. call 9-911 for an ambulance
  2. call safety and security

Amarillo College Resources link:

PHYSICAL RESTRICTIONS: The activities presented in this course may have medical contraindications.  It is the responsibility of the student to inform the instructor know if any of these restrictions apply.

If you have:

Cardiac problems, uncontrolled high blood pressure Cryotherapy is contraindicated.

Cardiac pacemaker Diathermy and electrical stimulation is contraindicated.

Metal implants - Diathermy is contraindicated. Traction may be contraindication depending on location. 

PregnancyNO modalities can be performed over the trunk area.  If you have maternal heart disease, hypertension, or uncontrolled diabetes, modalities are contraindicated.

Thermo-regulatory problems – Inform the lab instructor and lab partners. Extra surveillance is required during any exposure to thermal modalities.

Autoimmune disorders - Inform the lab instructor and lab partners. Before any modality, especially traction, is applied, approval from the instructor must be obtained.

Coagulation therapy - Inform the lab instructor and lab partners. Some physical agents treatments, especially traction, may be contraindicated. 

Peripheral Vascular Disease - Inform the lab instructor and lab partners.  Before any modality is applied, approval from the instructor must be obtained. 

Diabetes/hypoglycemia - Stay prepared for management of insulin reactions or hypoglycemic events.

Decreased sensation - Extra care must be implemented in the use of modalities.

Latex sensitivity - Seek non-latex alternatives within the lab. Inform any lab partner of the allergy.

Current pain or illness or injury - Inform the instructor and lab partner. Do not proceed with any application to an injury site. 



Syllabus Created on:

01/13/22 10:39 AM

Last Edited on:

01/18/22 11:28 AM