Occupational Therapy Assistant Jobs: What You Need to Know
March 17, 2014
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Your future career as an occupational therapy assistant will involve helping the injured and disabled develop the skills they need to perform daily activities and job-related responsibilities. You will work directly with patients, providing therapy under the supervision of an occupational therapist. This role will be highly rewarding because it will aid those in your care to recover lost independence.
What Kind of Patients Need Your Help?
Patients who can benefit from your intervention include accident victims and people who suffer from medical conditions that curtail functionality. In fact, almost anyone with a physical, mental, emotional or developmental impairment can profit from your rehabilitative services.
What Will Your Duties Be?
The specific nature of the work will vary with the type of patient with whom you are working. Some of your duties could include:
- Teaching safe transferring methods, such as moving from a bed to a wheelchair or from a wheelchair to a bathtub bench.
- Helping patients exercise, stretch and do other therapeutic activities.
- Guiding developmentally disabled children in play activities that enhance strength, coordination and socialization.
- Teaching those with limited function how to use adaptive devices and special equipment that make an activity easier.
- Monitoring and reporting the progress of patients.
Where Will You Work?
The field of occupational therapy has many specialty areas, so the options in work settings are varied. Your potential work environments include hospitals, private practice offices and schools, in addition to nursing home facilities and home health organizations.
What Will Be Involved in Your Career Preparation?
Your occupational therapist assistant program will include classroom studies and with hands-on experience. Introductory courses in subjects such as anatomy, physiology and medical terminology will usually be a part of the first year's studies, and classes such as physical disability, mental health and pediatrics will be a part of the second year's curriculum. Sixteen weeks of supervised fieldwork in the community will give you the opportunity to put what you have learned in school into practice.
The goal of all your work in this career will be to improve the quality of life of your patients. Sometimes the results of therapy may be small, but other times they may be striking and dramatic. Even small improvements are welcome to someone who is struggling to cope with the disabling effects of an illness. Whether your work enables an injured patient to return to a job or makes life a little easier for a disabled homemaker, it will be richly fulfilling.
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