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LCC Library

Physical Therapist Assistant Guide

A guide to the research process for Physical Therapy Assistant students.


This Research Guide is intended to help Physical Therapist Assistant students find and understand information and access LCC Library resources related to their course of study. Use the blue tabs to navigate between pages.

If you need help with research or finding resources for PTA assignments, please contact the department 's library liaision, Claire Dannenbaum at .

Define Research Question

Before you begin your research, try to clearly define your research question. Think about specific patient populations, conditions, possible interventions and outcomes. Remember the acronym PICO to help.

P = population

I = intervention

C = comparison (often researchers compare 2 interventions when conducting studies, so it can help to think of 2 interventions to compare.)

= outcome

Example:  What physical therapy interventions reduce pain for diabetics with peripheral neuropathy?

Brainstorm Search Terms

Next, use your research question to brainstorm keywords to search for sources. Pick out the keywords from your question, and brainstorm synonyms, related ideas, etc.

Possible search terms from the example research question above:

diabetic, diabetes, diabetics,
neuropathy, peripheral neuropathy, neuropathies
interventions, physical therapy, PT
feet, toes, hands, fingers, extremities, limbs
pain, reduce pain, walking, gait, balance

This is a critical step in research. Brainstorm your terms. Write them down. Add to the list as you go. Mix and match terms. Perform several searches.

This form will help you to format your question using the PICO process and brainstorm search terms related to your question.

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