Occupational therapy assistants are growing as a work force and a potential career option, and their rise corresponds the rise of the entire field of occupational therapy. Being able to make a difference in someone’s life draws a lot of people into the profession, but even so, many of those people might not know exactly what to expect in terms of what their work will actually involve. Use this guide to see for yourself what the work of an OTA involves.
The overall scope of work for an occupational therapy assistant revolves around direct interactions with patients in order to make improvements in their lives, and the way that they are able to complete or go about daily tasks. Patients may be of all ages, from toddlers up through senior citizens, and they may be coping with disabilities of all varieties, including physical, mental, developmental, emotional and so forth.
The tasks they need help with will therefore depend on a combination of those above factors. A senior citizen may need to regain some independence after suffering a physical injury or suffering a stroke, while a toddler may need help with learning, and even social environments and playing.
The OTA will work with patients of all kinds and all backgrounds, with various areas of need and specific courses of action to take. Some OTAs may work in specialized centers, where they only work with young children with developmental disabilities, for example, or only work with the elderly community. Others may work in more open clinical environments where patients of all kinds are routinely seen and each and every day may be different from the day before.
Some OTA work does require a bit of physical strength and exertion. This is when you need to help a patient with physical exercise or stretching, or simply help them around and out of a wheelchair, for example. Other work isn’t physically demanding at all, and will instead be based on an ability to connect with a child and display strong interpersonal skills, provide emotional support and encouragement, and so forth.
OTAs are very hands on with their patients, and while full occupational therapists will handle issues such as original evaluation or diagnosis, and the development of treatment plans, OTAs will actually be implementing those plans and interacting with their patients as time goes on. OTAs will therefore also collaborate with OTs to revise and improve treatment plans or strategies, noting the progress or setbacks that a patient has experienced. It’s a dynamic position that will often be busy but very highly rewarding.
The work of an occupational therapy assistant ultimately may involve any number of different tasks or components. It’s really all about making a positive improvement in the life of somebody dealing with an impairment, injury or other problem. The OTA’s job is to help them overcome obstacles and lead a fuller, more independent and higher quality life, and this may see them working with numerous patient and disability types and acting in a wide array of different ways to get that job done.