One of the reasons many students choose to enter the medical field is to support those with disabilities or those struggling through serious injury. Occupational therapy assistants help these individuals by providing the necessary physical and emotional support they need to improve their wellbeing and increase their self-esteem.
What Is an Occupational Therapy Assistant?
An occupational therapy assistant (OTA) is a medical professional that supports occupational therapists. They typically provide treatments to help individuals with disabilities of all types learn how to function independently. OTAs also help patients of all ages regain skills lost due to injuries such as stroke or amputation.
Some of your responsibilities may include:
- Helping children with developmental disabilities improve their motor skills and sensory processing
- Providing dementia patients with treatment that assists with personality changes and behavior
- Teaching patients how to perform daily tasks such as cleaning, eating, bathing and dressing
- Assisting patients with disabilities in using screen readers, safety straps and many other assistive tools
- Teaching patients how to reduce pain and soreness due to injury through exercise and stretching
- Supporting patients through difficult times to improve their mental and emotional wellbeing
In your day-to-day, you might also perform administrative tasks such as scheduling patients for appointments and returning patient messages. Responsibilities will vary depending on where you choose to work.
Where Do Occupational Therapy Assistants Work?
You can find occupational therapy assistants working in many healthcare facilities. For example, they may support psychologists in therapy and support centers or specialty doctors in hospitals. They also work in long-term care facilities, pediatric health centers, specialty clinics and schools.
How to Become an Occupational Therapy Assistant
First, you’ll need to obtain your high school diploma or GED if you haven’t done so yet. Next, you’ll need to attend an accredited Occupational Therapy Assistant program such as the one offered through Cambridge. During your program, you’ll study a range of subject matter, including:
- Health science
- Anatomy and physiology
- Occupational therapy basics
Our program takes approximately two years to complete and results in an Associate of Science in Occupational Therapy degree. After graduation and successful completion of the NBCOT exam, you’ll be ready for entry-level employment.