- Occupational Therapy Assistant: The Profession
An Occupational Therapy Assistant works under the direction of an Occupational Therapist to provide rehabilitative services to persons with physical, mental or developmental disabilities. Their goal is to enable clients to function as independently as possible in the areas of self-care, work and leisure. They may help a disabled homemaker learn how to perform household tasks or perhaps help an injured worker return to work by improving hand strength and coordination.
An Occupational Therapy Assistant helps clients with specific rehabilitative activities and exercises outlined in the treatment plan developed in collaboration with the Occupational Therapist. Activities range from teaching the correct technique for transferring from a wheelchair to a bed, to teaching handwriting skills to a child with a developmental disability. The assistant monitors the progression of the program, ensuring that activities are performed correctly and suggests changes to that program. They also record observations and document treatment for reimbursement.
The Occupational Therapy Assistant works with people of all ages in a variety of settings. These include rehabilitation centers, acute care hospitals, school systems, mental health facilities, nursing homes, pediatric clinics and in clients’ homes.
The key to success of the occupational therapy process is the ability to establish rapport with the patient. Those best suited for this profession are those who genuinely like people and can relate to both individuals and small groups. Since this is a profession without a set of ready-made answers for every situation, the potential student must be flexible, creative and a good problem solver.