One of the most devastating injuries someone can have is a traumatic brain injury – a TBI. Recuperating from a TBI often is a long-term, multi-stage process. Thankfully,occupational therapy assistant schools are graduating more and more occupational therapy assistants (OTAs). Graduates from a college OTA program are healthcare professionals with the training and knowledge to provide constructive, highly personalized help to TBI victims and their families.
You might be unfamiliar with everything occupational therapy can accomplish. Research, however, is finding that specific occupational therapy activities are a big help for those with emotional, social, cognitive, developmental, or physical impairments.
OTAs work in partnership with an occupational therapist, but OTAs can use their expertise to make changes or adaptations – if necessary – to make progress toward a goal. (Read more about the difference between OTAs and OTs in this blog.)
What You’ll Learn in Occupational Therapy School
If you know someone who’s suffered a TBI, he or she has likely benefited from occupational therapy. It’s the OTA who carries out much of the therapy by working one-on-one with the client, serving as part coach, part instructor, and full-time encourager.
Someone who has the desire to help those with a TBI or a severe cognitive challenge must know how to evaluate a client’s current and potential abilities. They must also understand how to assess the physical and cognitive demands of the desired activity. OTAs typically introduce adaptive tools and instruct clients about new ways of accomplishing what they want to do.
How an OTA Helps Those with a TBI
Personalized care is the hallmark for every client in which occupational therapy is indicated, and this is especially so with traumatic brain injuries. (Learn more about guidelines for TBI therapy here.)
To get a glimpse of the types of help OTAs would be carrying out, here’s a fictitious, basic therapy outcome for Blake, who suffered a TBI in a fall at work.
Following his release from the hospital, Blake attended occupational therapy at an outpatient day treatment program. Blake and his OTA, Taylor, worked together to reach the initial goals Blake had set with the therapy team.
While carrying out the therapy activities, Taylor observes Blake’s physical and mental performance. Taylor offers ideas for adaptive routines and guides Blake in specific exercises. Taylor reports on Blake’s progress for various daily living activities:
Blake shows success in meeting the goals for these activities, so the OT team sets new goals to assist Blake and his wife in adjusting life after a TBI. The ongoing therapy plan addresses other cognitive, physical, psychological, and emotional capacities needed to ensure the highest level of independent living possible for Blake and his family.
What’s an OTA Program Like?
In occupational therapy assistant school, classwork and instructive lab sessions lay out the principles, theories, and tactics necessary for the desired level of daily living.
The first part of a two-year Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree in Occupational Therapy Assistant covers preliminary coursework common to most college degrees, such as communications and psychology. The OTA program also mixes in basic health sciences courses. In the second (and final) year of the A.A.S. in OTA degree, students move into professional OTA program coursework and lab sessions.
Finally, students learn to apply their skills in four-to-five months of guided fieldwork experiences to ensure they’re ready for the OTA workforce. Graduates of an occupational therapy assistant school are eligible to take the national certifying exam to become a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA). The COTA designation reflects full competency in the skills needed to deliver help and hope to those who need them.
Ready for Occupational Therapy Assistant School?
Consider the two-year Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Occupational Therapy Assistant Degree Program at Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC). CUKC is a nonprofit, private, healthcare-focused university in Overland Park, Kansas.
The CUKC OTA program includes 16 core courses plus the four-to-five months of required fieldwork experience. Coursework is presented in eight-week segments to immerse students in their class subjects.
At CUKC, the OTA program offers:
Connect with an advisor today, or request this free ebook: Your Complete Guide to an Occupational Therapy Assistant Career. There’s no better time to find out how you can become an occupational therapy assistant!