How an Occupational Therapy Assistant Changes Lives
April 28, 2014
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An occupational therapy assistant (OTA) is an important member of a skilled rehabilitation team who works primarily in outpatient rehabilitation clinics and hospitals. You can become certified by graduating from accredited programs and passing the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy Examination. With this certification, you can practice as a certified occupational therapy assistant, though most states will require you to be licensed as well.
From Pediatrics to Geriatrics
A flood of aging baby boomers ensures a growing need for healthcare professionals of all sorts, including occupational therapy assistants. OTAs usually work with older adults who have suffered a devastating medical event, such as a patient recovering from a cerebrovascular accident who is paralyzed on one side of his or her body. By helping someone learn new ways of doing common things, a skilled OTA helps smooth the transition from a rehabilitation facility to independent living.
The growing geriatric population will increase the need for OTAs, but that doesn't mean they're the only patients you can work with. People of all ages in a wide range of settings need the assistance of an OTA. Children who need help with their cognitive, physical, sensory and motor skills comprise a significant proportion of OTA patients. Working with kids can be challenging, but you can help improve their lives by teaching them exercises and coping strategies.
You may also work with trauma victims, who rely heavily on rehabilitation professionals after experiencing life-changing medical events. With motivation and therapy, you can help these people overcome insurmountable obstacles.
A Promising Career
Because of the wide variety of career paths and the profession's fast growth, certified OTAs have little trouble finding employment. The return on your two-year investment in school will be a respected career that pays well and is in great demand. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), between 2012 and 2022, the number of OTA jobs is expected to increase by 41 percent (the national average for all U.S. jobs combined is 11 percent).
As an occupational therapy assistant, the most valuable reward is knowing you will be there to help others at a time when they especially need you.
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