An Occupational Therapy Assistant is someone who treats and helps patients going through physical, mental or developmental difficulties. They do so by setting up treatment plans for them and help them recover using Rehabilitation.
An Occupational Therapy Assistant first interrogates their clients or patients to know about the problems they are going through, they also check their medical records to be aware of their overall health status, after assessing the required information and situation they make themselves clear of the Patient’s goals in order to help them recover faster and get the best results. With such information in hand, they set up treatment plans for the clients and are concerned with carrying out that plan and works along with the client gaining their confidence, helping them to achieve an independent lifestyle by teaching them to perform Activities of daily living which may include bathing themselves, getting dressed, cook meals etc. Along with these An Occupational Therapy Assistant also recommends home and job sites for their clients, plan mental development programs for patients with mental disabilities. For Clients with Physical disabilities, an OTA provides professional guidance and teach exercises for enhancing the mobility as well as teach them how to use a wheelchair, how to perform specific tasks for their affected muscles and limbs. In case of children with developmental problems, they play with them to promote their socialisation hand-eye coordination and improve their mental capacity. They also track Patients’ Progress and report their development to Occupational Therapists and perform other necessary paper works.
An Occupational Therapy Assistant assists an Occupational Therapist by helping to understand a patient and develop a specific and correct treatment plan for them. Apart from developing programs, they also actively monitor the activities of the Patients to ensure that they are precisely performing their activities and plans; if they find any faults, they correct them and track their progress. They also provide feedback to the Occupational therapist so that if in case a patient is not exhibiting desired results, they can change the treatment plan accordingly. Occupational therapy assistants are also aware of how to operate specific types of equipment required for the patients’ treatment, troubleshoot equipment failures and issues and also help in repairing and maintenance.
Schools to Learn Occupational Therapist Assistant
To become an Occupational Therapist Assistant aspirant typically need to have a two years associate’s degree from an accredited program from a program accredited by the American Occupational Therapy Association. OTA programs are commonly found in community colleges and technical schools. Subjects such as psychology, kinesiology, biology and health sciences are recommended. Occupational therapy assistants also need certifications in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and basic life support (BLS). One can increase the chances of getting into a community college or technical school program by involving in volunteer work in a healthcare setting, such as a hospital or a nursing home, an occupational therapists’ office, or healthcare professional. After the degree program is over, they must undergo supervised training under a licensed Occupational Therapist, after which they must pass the Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant (COTA) Exam. After they clear the COTA exam, they may apply to their state for a license which is the final process to become a Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant.
Places of Employment
An Occupational Therapist does not have a fixed place of employment as such they can be found anywhere with people who are struggling with their lives. Though they are found almost everywhere, the most common areas of work for an Occupational Therapy Assistants include:
Occupational Therapist Assistants are found employed in schools to help children who are going through physical, mental, behavioural and emotional difficulties and imbalances. They plan and devise specific strategies to help them combat and overcome these issues. Occupational Therapist Assistants also work in relation with Parents and school administrators to further understand children with problems and help them recover properly.
Hospitals also employ Occupational therapy assistants to help patients suffering from medical or mental conditions which require the professional expertise of an OTA. They also work hand in hand with doctors and healthcare professionals to help find cures for certain medical diseases and conditions.
Occupational Therapist Assistants also provide help to patients in outpatient environments such as their homes as the patient may be immobile due to injuries or certain medical conditions. They prepare and strategise plans to increase their interest in their daily living routines and also help them to perform specific exercises and activities to help them recover quicker or to help them develop skills to improve their way of living.
*Skilled Nursing Facility
Nursing homes are the most common place where you can find Occupational Therapist Assistants working under the guidance of Occupational Therapists. Here in nursing homes, they work with patients who need constant attention and nursing. They devise plans and activities and find out most effective ways to for them to carry out their daily life activities in a healthy or efficient manner.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the central wage per annum for occupational therapy assistants was $59,310 as of June 2017. However, depending on the degree and level of certifications an OTA pursues, the salary can increase significantly. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also affirms that the job opportunities for Occupational Therapist Assistants are growing at a faster pace comparing to other occupations.
Besides the lucrative salary options, the enrolment and enlisting of Occupational therapist assistants as per the Bureau of Labor Statistics is estimated to grow 30 per cent from present-day till 2026, which is faster than most of the other occupations. Occupational therapist assistants are needed to help Occupational therapists as well as other healthcare professionals including doctors and in hospitals and other healthcare homes. With the help of OTAs, the treatment facilities can operate smoothly and efficiently.
Demand for Occupational Therapy Assistants is speculated to grow over the coming decades due to population explosion as well as increased health awareness among the masses. With the increase in life expectancy, the older adults are becoming more in number, and they are more likely to suffer from illness and ailments compared to younger adults. These ailments include heart diseases, stroke, diabetes, paralysis, arthritis etc. These conditions if not treated properly can alter the daily life routine of individuals. As such there arises a need for Occupational Therapy Assistants to help such patients. Therefore the role and importance of an Occupational Therapy Assistant cannot be undermined, and they too form an integral part of the long chain of healthcare professionals and caregivers.