Occupational therapy assistants and aides typically work under the supervision of an occupational therapist in order to provide rehabilitative services to individuals with physical, mental, developmental or emotional impairments. The goal of such therapy is usually to assist injured workers be able to re-enter the work force by instructing them in how to compensate for motor skills that have been lost. Assistants and aides may also assist patients with learning disabilities increase their level of independence.
Occupational therapy assistants often benefit from holding a certificate in occupational therapy. Check out the program below which offers free information:
Occupational Therapy Assistant and Aide Job Responsibilities
Occupational therapy assistants assist patients with rehabilitative exercises and activities that are outlined within a treatment plan that is developed in collaboration with the occupational therapist. Activities that are included in the treatment plan might range from providing instruction regarding the proper method for moving from the bed into a wheelchair as well as the best way to stretch muscles. Assistants also monitor activities to ensure they are performed properly, while also providing encouragement. In addition, assistants may record the progress of clients to provide to the occupational therapist. The treatment program may be altered by the therapist if it is not providing the intended effect or the patient is not improving as anticipated. Occupational therapy assistants may also document billing for the health insurance provider of the client.
Occupational therapy aides commonly prepare materials as well as assemble equipment that is necessary for treatment. Their responsibilities may include a wide range of clerical duties including answering the telephone, scheduling appointments, ordering or restocking deplete supplies and completing insurance forms. As aides are not regulated by state law, they are not allowed to perform as many tasks as occupational therapy assistants.
Occupational therapy assistants and aides must have a significant degree of strength due to the fact that their job responsibilities require physical exertion in order to help clients. For instance, assistants and aides commonly need to life clients. Constant stooping, standing and kneeling for long periods of time are frequently part of the job. Occupational therapy assistants and aides must be able to work well with others as they will need to interact with the public.
Hours as well as days that assistants and aides work typically vary according to the facility where they are employed and whether they work full-time or part-time. Some therapy offices and clinics may need to work in the evenings or on the weekends to accommodate the schedules of patients.
With experience and additional training, occupational therapy assistants may choose to advance into positions involving administration. Others may choose to teach. Aides can advance into assistant positions with formal training.
Employment in this field is expected to grow faster than average for other occupations. The demand for occupational therapy assistants and aides is expected to increase due to the rising number of persons with limited function or disabilities.
Occupational Therapy Assistant and Aide Training and Education Requirements
An associate degree from an accredited program is typically required in order to quality for occupational therapy assistant jobs. Occupational therapy aides usually receive the majority of their training while on the job. In many states, the practice of occupation therapist assistants is regulated through licensure, registration or certification. Requirements commonly vary according to state.
Occupational therapy assistants must attend a school that is accredited through the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education to sit for a national certifying exam. During the first year of study, students will commonly receive an introduction to healthcare as well as physiology, anatomy and basic medical terminology. During the second year, courses are usually more intensive and will include adult physical disabilities, mental health, pediatrics and gerontology. In addition, students must complete a minimum of 16 weeks of supervised fieldwork in a clinic or community setting.
Applicants to occupational therapy assistant programs can improve chances of admission by taking courses in biology and health in high school as well as by volunteering in physical therapy or occupational therapy offices, nursing care facilities or other healthcare settings.
Occupational therapy aides typically receive the majority of their training on the job. Applicants should have a high school diploma, a desire to help others and strong interpersonal skills. Volunteer work can also help to improve chances of employment.
Occupational Therapy Assistant and Aide Salary and Wages
In 2008, the median annual wages of occupational therapist assistants were $48,230. The median annual wages of occupational therapy aides were $26,960.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Occupational Therapy Assistant and Aide Certification
In forty states as well as Puerto Rico, Guam and the District of Columbia, the practice of occupational therapist assistants is regulated through registration, certification or licensure. Eligibility requirements vary by state. Applicants should contact their state licensing board for specific requirements regarding regulation.
Certification is voluntary. It is offered through a national certifying exam offered by the National Board for Certifying Occupational Therapy. Individuals who pass the test will be awarded the title of Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant. Occupational therapist assistants must continue professional development through continuing education workshops and courses to maintain certification. Continuing education may also be required as a condition for maintaining licensure.
Occupational Therapy Assistant and Aide Professional Associations
Professional associations for occupational therapy assistants include the American Occupational Therapy Association.