Looking for a refresher course for Physical Therapist Assistants?

You’ve come to the right place!  Lake Superior College offers an online refresher course open to physical therapist assistants, and one LIVE 2-day review course for those studying for the NPTE.

  1. Our BASIC PTA REFRESHER course is an intense, 16-week course for physical therapist assistants.  The 2-credit course is designed for those studying for the national board exam AND/OR PTAs who are re-entering the workforce after taking time off.
  2. Prefer a live course? Lake Superior College hosts a LIVE 2-day review course for those studying for the NPTE.  The course is held each year during the second week of January at Lake Superior College in Duluth, MN.   Contact Jane Worley at and request information about attending the in-person PTA exam review course.


PTA 2780 – Basic Refresher Course for Physical Therapist Assistants – Online Course

There are size limits for the course for a reason, so if the course is full, you may have to wait until the next semester (the course is offered spring and fall semesters).  However, students do occasionally drop the course shortly before or after the start date and so watching the course schedule for openings is always a good idea.

If there are openings and the course started less than a week ago, it is possible you can join in and catch up.  Beyond that, adding the course late is NOT recommend unless you have LOTS of time to devote to the course (i.e., not working, an abundance of free time).   The course is very challenging as it is, and to try to catch up by starting very late, a student will potentially become very overwhelmed and frustrated.   If interested in adding the course after the start date, you will need to complete the appropriate late add LSC Petition Form and print/scan/email it to Jane Worley at .  Please also send an email to Jane Worley notifying her that you are petitioning for late start.

As you might expect, an online course will be more challenging than an on-ground (“live”) course if a student has very little experience with computers. There are many helpful resources for students who need to update their computer skills.

Many students without strong computer skills have taken the course successfully, although they will initially find the course  VERY challenging as a result of the “learning curve” about the technology.  Usually, after the first week or two of the course, most students can figure out how to navigate the course.

Many students who have not been successful taking the NPTE in the past have taken this course.  Those who have kept up with the work have commented that the course was helpful in improving their knowledge and their test-taking skills.  A number of students who had unsuccessfully attempted the NPTE exam two or three times with scores above 560 were able to pass the exam after taking this course.  Each student is different, but careful study of course content and attention to test-taking strategy as described in the course will make most students successful on the exam.  It’s also expected that students with lower NPTE scores (below 540) may need additional remediation before or after taking the course.

No. The course is offered entirely through the internet.  Discussions occur and assignments are posted online.  It would be possible to take the course if you had access to the internet two to three times per week at a minimum (i.e., through a local library, university, or internet café).  You could complete readings and assignments offline and participate in electronic group discussions when you were online.  However, for the greatest flexibility, regular internet access is suggested.

No.  The online format allows you to complete assignments and participate in online discussions at times that work for you.  There is no set time you have to be online.  The system is available to you 24 hours per day except during scheduled downtimes for maintenance (these are infrequent).  Students who have never taken an online course in the past will most likely find the first two weeks challenging as they learn to navigate the course.

To get the most out of the course, you should SCHEDULE at least 10-12 hours per week to devote to reading, completing assignments, and participating in the online discussion.  If you have been out of the field more ten years or more, you should expect you will need to devote even more time. While you can break these hours up any way you like, it is advised to spread the hours over several days each week to improve retention of information (rather than trying to do it all in one day). Every student is different, but to get the most out of the course, there needs to be an ongoing commitment to spending time, on a regular basis, reviewing material and completing assignments.

YES! This course should significantly help clear the cobwebs!  It would especially help if you did spend some time practicing as a PTA after graduation prior to taking time off from the field.  Of course, the longer you have been away from health care the more important it is for you to review basic anatomy and physiology prior to starting the course.  We do not review these concepts in the course. Students who have been out of the field for almost 20 years have taken the course and reported they found it helpful as a starting point for returning to the field.  However, you will undoubtedly need to put more time into the course than someone who has not been out of the field for a long time.

Here are several things you should do before the class starts, in no particular order.

  • Get your textbook (PTAEXAM: The Complete Guide) from www.scorebuilders.com.  We will use the most current edition.  Do not peek at the exams/tests in the book.  We’ll use them in class and they aren’t valid for you if you look at them in advance. IF YOU’VE ALREADY WORN HOLES IN YOUR SCOREBUILDERS BOOK AND TAKEN ALL THE PRACTICE TESTS, YOU SHOULD GET A DIFFERENT REVIEW BOOK FOR PRACTICE TESTS (readings will still come from the Scorebuilders book).  TherapyEd is the recommended alternative book.
  • Review basic anatomy/physiology concepts for the major systems of the body.  If you don’t already have a good anatomy atlas, it is STRONGLY recommend that you get one (Netter is recommended).
  • Find your PTA school textbooks in the attic, dust them off, and get ready to use them as resources.  If you don’t have them anymore, borrow some from a practicing PT or PTA if possible. Browse them to start clearing the cobwebs.
  • Consider purchasing a PT reference book such as The Rehabilitation Specialists’s Handbook by Rothstein, Roy, and Wolf.  You can find these used through online stores such as Amazon.com.
  • Learn more about online courses at LSC, find out about the technical requirements, and assess your readiness to take an online course.
  • Schedule time each week to devote to the course.  Mark it on your calendar (the one on the fridge AND/OR the one on your computer/phone, too!)  You will need to commit AT LEAST 10-12 hours per week to this course.
  • Be sure you have an operational computer with a reliable, high-speed connection to the internet as this is required.   Also, your computer will need to be able to play sound clips.  If you can hear music or other sounds from your computer, you’re probably fine.

For technical difficulties enrolling in or accessing the course, please contact [email protected] or [email protected]Please do not contact the course instructor with these issues.  The help desk phone number is (218) 733-1016, or toll-free (800) 432-2884, extension 1016.  Hours are Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CST.  See also the FAQ below which includes step-by-step instructions to register for the course.

1.  Go to lsc.edu

2.  Click “Current Students > Course Schedule

3.  Choose the appropriate semester.

4.  For subject, scroll down and select “Physical Therapist Assistant.”

5.  Click “submit.”

6. Find the course, and click the “add to cart” icon on the left. If the course does not come up, it is probably full.

7. Login to Lake Superior College. If you don’t have a login, look for the words “Need an ID? and click on the “Sign up Now” link.

8.  On the next page, you will probably have to click “create an account” again, unless you already have an account at another MinnState school.

9.  Complete the required information to generate an account.  This will give you a username and password.  Save this.  Once you have it, you can register for the course.  You may need to start this process again and repeat steps 1 through 7 as needed.  Continue until you are registered for the course. If you continue to have difficulties, please call the LSC help desk phone number is (218) 733-1016; hours are Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CST.

If the PTA Basic Refresher course is not part of a degree, certificate, or diploma, there is NOT financial aid offered by LSC for students who are taking ONLY the refresher course (and not seeking a degree).  Students are encouraged to explore opportunities for financial assistance with their current or future employers.

The course is a 2-credit course so costs are based on current tuition rates.  As with most college courses, textbook costs are additional.  Typically the cost to take the course is approximately $400-450 including tuition and fees (again, this does not include the cost of the course textbook).  View current tuition and fees, or call the LSC Business Office at 1-(800) 432-2884 (ask for the Business Office).  You will also be able to see exact fees for the course on the course description page as you begin the registration process.

For specific course questions, please send your questions to Jane Worley at .  If your questions relate to registering for the course or obtaining an LSC ID number, contact [email protected].

Details About the Course

PTA Basic Refresher Course (2 credits – PTA 2780)

Offered online each semester; for current offerings or to register, go to Lake Superior College’s course schedule (or, go to LSC’s home page at lsc.edu and click on Current Students > Course Schedule)

The course is offered spring and fall semesters and runs for 16 weeks. Questions? View the FAQs above.

Course Details:

  1. Within a given unit (usually two weeks long), students complete course assignments and readings at their own pace, and they are encouraged to follow the weekly class schedule (see below) so as not to fall behind.
  2. The course is held completely online, so RELIABLE high-speed access to the internet is required.
  3. There is no set time of day or day of the week that students need to be online, although students should plan to spend at least 10-12 hours per week studying for the course and completing course assignments.
  4. **The longer time out of the field, the more time a student will need to spend studying and reviewing.  This course is the first step for those out of the field for many years; it may not be the only step you need to take to refresh your knowledge and re-enter the field.
  5. Interaction with the instructor and other students occurs via e-mail and a course discussion board, organized by week and topic.
  6. Students submit assignments via discussion board posting, assignments dropbox and by completing quizzes.   Instructions are provided.  Basic computer skills are expected.
Course Outcomes and Assessment Methods
Course Outcomes Assessment Methods
1. Student will be able to describe data collection techniques used by the PTA. Class discussion, written assignment
2. Student will be able to discuss current treatment modalities used in physical therapy, including application, indications, and contraindications. Class discussion, written assignment
3. Students will be able to describe and discuss current theories related to physical therapy treatment for patients with a wide range of diagnoses, including those in specialized settings such as school systems. Class discussion, written assignment
4. Students will be able to discuss legal and ethical aspects of current physical therapy practice. Class discussion, written assignment

**Detailed Class Schedule (including content covered each week) – this is approximate and subject to change

Prerequisites: graduate of CAPTE-accredited physical therapist assistant program or consent of instructor. We take your word for this, and it is not required that you send a transcript. The course is also taken as a graduation requirement for LSC PTA Military bridge students.

Text, References, and supplies: PTAEXAM: The Complete Study Guide, by Scott Giles (current edition); available through scorebuilders.com (cost is approximately $85). Book should be purchased directly from Scorebuilders prior to the start of the class. This book is not available in the LSC bookstore. Students in the PTA Military Bridge Program should view course announcements within the D2L orientation for a discount code for this book.

Register for the course. VIEW THE FAQs above if you need help registering.

For more information about the course itself, please contact Jane Worley via e-mail at . For technical difficulties with registration, please call the LSC Help Desk at (218) 733-1016 during daytime hours. Please read the FAQs first.

PTA Refresher Course Schedule (PTA 2780)

Course Overview

This is meant to be an overview of the topics we will be going over/reviewing as the course goes on.  It is subject to change.

Unit 1 – Topics –Learning Strategies and Test Taking Strategies (1 week long)

  • Course Intro and Timelines
  • NPTE Basics
  • Exam Preparation
  • NPTE Blueprint
  • Study Concepts
  • Time Management
  • Learning Strategies
  • Exam Analysis
  • Test-taking Errors
  • Lines, Tubes, and Equipment

Unit 2 – Topics – UE Anatomy Week 2-3</strong

  • Exercise Physiology
  • Kinesiology
  • Muscle Action – UE
  • Muscle Testing – UE
  • Range of Motion – UE
  • Special Tests – UE
  • Osteokinematics & Arthrokinematics (Key Concepts for Joint Mobilizations)
  • Upper Extremity Anatomy
  • Common Upper Extremity Diagnoses
  • Conditions
    • Adhesive Capsulitis
    • Bicipital Tendonitis
    • Colles Fracture
    • De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis
    • Glenohumeral dislocation-anterior
    • Lateral Epicondylitis
    • Medial Epicondylitis
    • Osteoarthritis
    • RC Impingement/Tendonitis/Tear
    • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
    • Total Shoulder Arthroplasty (TSA)
    • UCL Sprain-Thumb


Unit 3– Topics –LE Anatomy Week 4-5

  • Joint Mobilization
  • Therapeutic Exercise
  • Gait Analysis
  • Muscle Action – LE
  • Muscle Testing – LE
  • Range of Motion – LE
  • Special Tests – LE
  • Lower Extremity Anatomy
  • Common Lower Extremity Diagnoses
  • Conditions
    • Achilles Tendon Rupture
    • Ankle Sprain -Lateral
    • Anterior Compartment Syndrome
    • MCL Sprain
    • Meniscal Tear
    • Osgood Schlatter
    • Patellofemoral Syndrome
    • PCL Sprain
    • Piriformis Syndrome
    • Plantar Fasciitis
    • Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
    • Total Hip Arthroplasty (THA)
    • Total Knee Arthroplasty (TKA)
    • Trochanteric Bursitis

Unit 4 – Topics –Neuromuscular Week 6-7

  • Neuroanatomy
  • UMN v LMN Disorders
  • Cranial Nerves
  • Reflexes
  • Sensation
  • Balance
  • Communication Disorders
  • Pharmacology
  • Neurological Rehabilitation
  • Pediatrics and Development
  • Worksheet of Lesion Locations/Part of CNS
  • Conditions
    • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
    • Anterior Cord Syndrome
    • Bell’s Palsy
    • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
    • Cauda Equina Syndrome
    • Cerebral Palsy
    • Central Cord Syndrome
    • Cerebrovascular Accident (CVA)
    • Down Syndrome
    • Epilepsy
    • Erb’s Palsy
    • Guillain-Barre Syndrome
    • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
    • Myasthenia Gravis
    • Parkinson’s Disease
    • Post-Polio Syndrome
    • Spinal Cord Injury
    • Spina bifida
    • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
    • Trigeminal Neuralgia


Unit 5 – Topics –CardioPulmonary & Pharmacology Week 8-9

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Lung Volumes and Capacities
  • Laboratory Tests
  • Diagnostic Procedures
  • Pharmacology
  • Medical Procedures
  • Aerobic Exercise
  • Airway Clearance
  • Conditions
    • Aneurism
    • Angina Pectoris
    • Chronic Venous Insufficiency
    • Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)
    • Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)
    • Cystic Fibrosis (CF)
    • Emphysema
    • Hypertension
    • Myocardial Infarction
    • Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD)
    • Pneumothorax
    • Pulmonary Edema
    • Pulmonary Embolus
    • Respiratory Acidosis & Alkalosis
    • Transfemoral Amputation
    • Transtibial Amputation
    • Tuberculosis
    • Venous Thrombosis

Unit 6 – Topics –Other Systems Week 10-11

  • Integumentary System
  • Metabolic System
  • Endocrine System
  • Gastrointestinal System
  • Genitourinary System
  • Obstetrics
  • Lymphatic System
  • System Interactions
  • Oncology
  • Pharmacology
  • Conditions
    • Addison’s Disease
    • Appendicitis
    • Burns
    • Cancer (Breast, Prostate, Uterine, Malignant Melanoma, Lung)
    • Cellulitis
    • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
    • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
    • Crohn’s Disease
    • Cushing Syndrome
    • Diabetes
    • Diastasis Recti
    • Diverticulitis Disease
    • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
    • Gout
    • Grave’s Disease
    • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
    • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
    • Lymphedema
    • Metabolic Acidosis & Alkalosis
    • Osteoporosis
    • Peptic Ulcer Disease
    • Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) & Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA)
    • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)
    • Ulcers (Arterial Insufficiency, Pressure, Neuropathic, Venous Insufficiency)
    • Ulcerative Colitis (US)
    • Urinary Incontinence
    • Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)


Unit 7 – Topics – Equipment & Modalities Week 12-13

  • Mobility
  • Wheelchairs
  • Ambulation
  • Assistive, Adaptive, & Supportive Devices
  • Medical Equipment
  • Diagnostic Imaging
  • Cryotherapy
  • Superficial & Deep Thermotherapy
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Traction
  • Compression
  • Electrotherapy
  • Spine Conditions
    • Ankylosing Spondylitis
    • Disk Herniation
    • Sciatica due to Herniated Nucleus Pulposus
    • Scoliosis
    • Spinal Stenosis
    • Spondylolisthesis-Degenerative
    • Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction
    • Torticollis

Unit 8 – Topics –Safety & “Other” Week 14-15

  • Infection Control
  • Emergent Conditions
  • Accessibility & (ADA)
  • Lines, Tubes, & Equipment
  • Documentation
  • Management
  • Ethics
  • Health Care Professionals
  • Health Insurance
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Patient Education
  • Evidence-Based Practice
  • Conditions
    • Alzheimer’s Disease
    • Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy
    • Myositis Ossificans
    • Osteochondritis Dissecans
    • Osteogenesis Imperfecta
    • Osteomyelitis
    • Vestibular Disorders