Communication and Interpersonal Skills for PTA

I.     Course Prefix/Number: PTA 103

       Course Name: Communication and Interpersonal Skills for PTA

       Credits: 2 (2 lecture; 0 lab)

II.    Prerequisite

Admittance into program; BIO 231 or concurrent enrollment; HIT 104 or concurrent enrollment; PTA 100 or instructor consent; and concurrent enrollment in PTA 105.

III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Course provides introduction to psychological and social aspects of the ill and disabled; verbal, non-verbal and therapeutic communication, special considerations in the care of geriatric patients and issues involved in working with the dying patient.

IV.   Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this course the student will be able to:

  1. Discuss the demands of, concerns about and requirements of the health career (specifically PTA) student experience.  Relate personal goals, ambitions and preparation to the PTA career.
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of the importance of appropriate communication skills in the physical therapy setting.  Identify various factors affecting verbal and nonverbal communication.
  3. Demonstrate an understanding of therapeutic communication and utilize various therapeutic communication techniques.
  4. Describe various psychosocial responses of the ill and disabled and identify various coping behaviors utilized.
  5. Describe popular theories of aging.
  6. Discuss the demographics of aging and societal attitudes toward the elderly population.
  7. Describe the physical and psychosocial aspects of aging and relate to care of the elderly patient.
  8. Describe various types of dementia and relate to recommended management approaches.
  9. Demonstrate an understanding of the implications of terminal illness on the physical therapy patient and recognize the need for respectful interaction with patient and family.
  10. Demonstrates an understanding of the process of dying, an appreciation of the fears associated with it and appropriate physical therapy intervention.
  11. Discuss cultural and ethnic influences on an individual’s response to illness, disability, aging and death.
  12. Throughout the course, display self-awareness and identify own attitudes about illness, aging, disability and death.

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics

  1. Health Career Education
    1. Knowledge and skills
    2. Clinical training requirements
    3. Personal goals and preparation
  2. Responses to Illness and Disability
    1. Effects of Hospitalization
    2. Self image and self esteem
    3. Common coping behaviors
  3. Communication
    1. Verbal
      1. Tone
      2. Volume
      3. Clarity
      4. Vocabulary
        1. Technical
        2. Lay
    2. Nonverbal
      1. Metacommunication
      2. Pantomime
    3. Therapeutic Communication
      1. facilitors
      2. blockers
  4. Theories of Aging
    1. Genetic
    2. Non-genetic
  5. Aging
    1. Demographics
    2. Attitudes
      1. Self
      2. Societal
  6. The aged client
    1. Physical changes
    2. Psychosocial responses
    3. Implications for physical therapy care
  7. Dementia
    1. Types
    2. Progression
    3. Management
  8. Terminal Illness
    1. Definition
    2. Patient responses
    3. Family concerns
  9. Dying and Death
    1. Stages
    2. Societal attitudes
    3. Personal attitude
    4. Role of physical therapy

VII.  Methods of Instruction

Primarily lecture/discussion with audio visual supplements.

Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

Course will be taught face to face, hybrid or online course. Attendance at all scheduled class time, participation in class discussion, timely completion of all assigned readings and homework.

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

Purtilo R, Haddad A, Health Professional and Patient Interaction, 8th ed.,Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders, Co.,2014.

Or texts of comparable content. Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton’s Schedule of Classes.

Handouts/articles as provided by instructor.

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

Written exams, including written final exam, participation in class discussion, completion of written assignments, homework, projects.

Grades determined by percentage of total points as follows:

90.0-100  = A
80.0-89.9 = B
70.0-79.9 = C

Scores below 70.0% are considered failing. It is not the policy of the program to "round up" decimals when computing final course grades. Exam and quiz grade average must be at least 70% to pass the course.

XI.   Other Course Information

  1. Students are expected to be in class and on time for all scheduled classes. Repeated tardiness and/or absences will result in lowering course grade.
  2. Students found guilty of plagiarism/cheating are subject to disciplinary action under the Student Code of Conduct.
  3. Ordinarily there will be no make-ups of exams or quizzes, announced or unannounced.  In the event a student is absent when a test or quiz is scheduled, the instructor may elect to allow a make up test with a penalty.
  4. Late homework assignments will not be accepted.
  5. In event of illness or emergency, instructor must be notified prior to class time.
  6. Cellular telephones, audible pagers and translators with audible signals should be turned off, placed in “airplane” or silent mode.

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at