On the whole, occupational therapy is a very quick growing field, and this is due to a variety of reasons. This has led more prospective students to become interested in employment opportunities in the field, and right at the top of that list is the profession of an occupational therapy assistant. While you may have a general idea about the field, it’s still important to take a closer look at the positions themselves and to see what it is what an OTA actually does.
Occupational therapy is all about improving the quality of life for people from all ages and backgrounds, dealing with nearly any kind of disability. That disability could be physical, emotional, mental or developmental, and it could be permanent or the result of a recent injury or traumatic event.
Occupational therapy has different goals and outcomes for different patients across a full range of life “occupations”. That doesn’t just mean a working life or career, although job skills and things like that are certainly included. But it also means the rest of the occupations in your life, from day to day chores and tasks, to life independence, social activities, learning, playing, coping and more.
With all of that said, an occupational therapy assistant will be working together with the full occupational therapist to help their patients in their life occupations, improving their quality of life, finding solutions for problems and overcoming setbacks and so forth. It’s typically up to the OT to diagnose or evaluate a patient and then work up a treatment plan.
But in many cases, it’s the OTA that then takes over the daily management of that plan. OTAs will help patients with physical exercises and various other treatments. They are there to assist, motivate, congratulate and provide valuable feedback to the OT, who can then make any necessary changes to the treatment plan or program.
One day, an occupational therapist assistant may be helping a patient in a wheelchair learn how to move about and navigate obstacles and daily hiccups, and on another day, he or she may be working with a young child to learn how to use a computer or improve their social interaction with other kids. OTAs have the important responsibilities of recording progress and setbacks, and working together with the OTs to figure out the best way to move forward.
In addition, OTAs often handle a few administrative tasks, such as billing and working with health insurance providers. However, most of the administrative work will be handled by an occupational therapist aide, which is a step below an assistant and is an unlicensed/uncertified profession.
As you can see, OTAs do many different things with their career, and it’s certainly a rewarding and dynamic profession. It’s all about helping people and making a difference in their lives, and across all of the “occupations” that a person has. From firsthand application of exercises and treatments, to working with OTs to develop revised treatment programs and handling a few administrative tasks, OTAs take on a lot in this exciting and rapidly growing field and profession.