To be hurt on the job can be crippling in more ways than just the physical damage of the injury. It may take months of intensive and painful physical therapy just to get back to a point where a seriously injured person may walk, much less perform physical labor. This requires the services of occupational therapists, who are assisted in their duties by occupational therapy assistants. The occupational therapy assistant works closely with the patient, aiding them in completing daily exercises according to a treatment plan. If the patient requires the use of special equipment in order to overcome disabilities, the occupational therapy assistant will show them how to use and maintain the equipment and may give them direct help in doing so if required. This assistant will record the progress of the patient and help the therapist determine the efficacy of the current treatment regimen.
Occupational therapy assistants are caring, patient individuals who have a strong desire to help people. They develop close relationships with their patients and take an interest in their progress towards mobility and productivity. They most frequently work in physical therapy offices, though they may also work with other specialists such as speech pathologists. Others may work in hospitals, nursing care facilities, or travel to the patient's home. To become an occupational therapy assistant, the minimum educational requirement is an associate's degree in occupational therapy, which is offered in many trade schools and community colleges.
Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) Tasks
Observe and document patients' progress, attitudes and behavior and report to supervisor.
Monitor and evaluate patients' performance in therapy activities and provide encouragement.
Select therapy activities to fit patients' needs and capabilities, alter treatment programs as necessary.
Instruct patients and families in home programs, basic living skills and the care and use of adaptive equipment.
Assist occupational therapists with implementing treatment plans designed to help patients function independently.