An individual's physical or occupational therapy for an injury or illness usually involves not only licensed therapists, but also rehabilitation assistants. These assistants work under the direction of licensed therapists, nurses, or other healthcare professionals, and assist patients in areas of mobility as well as in operating devices or equipment as part of the rehabilitation process. They may also help therapists to monitor patients' responses, which is especially important for those involved in rehabilitating cognitive processes or speech and communication, as even minute signals or reactions from patients can be of great importance.
While rehabilitation assistants are not themselves licensed therapists, certification is typically required to work hands-on with patients and clients. They may spend more time in contact with patients than their therapists, so it is important for aspiring rehabilitation assistants to have an aptitude for working with people, including patience, empathy, and understanding. Rehabilitation assistants must provide encouragement and reinforcement of successes, as well as offer motivation and enticement to help patients through difficult challenges.
Rehabilitation assistants also help keep their facilities clean and in good working order at all times. They may perform light maintenance and even custodial work as needed during office hours, and must immediately report any malfunctioning equipment so it may be repaired or replaced.
Most rehabilitation assistants begin their careers with vocational schooling in a relevant health care field. They are usually required to pass classwork and testing for certification as licensed RAs, and many schools also offer internships and job placement assistance. Most rehabilitation assistants work in clinical or hospital environments during regular business hours.
Rehabilitation Assistant Tasks
Transport patients to and from treatment areas, lift and transfer them according to positioning requirements, secure into or onto therapy equipment.
Monitor operation of equipment and record use of equipment.
Observe and document the progress of treatment.
Assist in implementing rehabilitation plans that fit clients' aptitudes, education levels, physical abilities, and career goals.