Anyone who has lived with chronic pain knows how difficult even the simplest tasks can be. Unfortunately, safe and effective treatment can be hard to find. The so-called opioid crisis is, in no small part, a result of the difficulty in finding effective treatment for chronic pain. Countless people turn to opioids as a last resort in their quest to manage pain, and then they become reliant upon them through no fault of their own.
The consequences are clear: in 2015, overdoses from opioids, both legal and illegal, claimed 19,000 lives in the United States. Obviously, other means of treatment are needed to reduce the reliance on opioids of those with chronic pain. According to a recent study by the University of Southern California (USC), there’s one more good reason OTA classes are so popular: lifestyle-based occupational therapy significantly improves the experiences of those with chronic pain.
The USC study followed patients receiving “lifestyle redesign” occupational therapy, which focuses holistically on pain management. In other words, it’s not just about responding to pain flare-ups on a case-by-case basis. Instead, a patient will work with an OT and/or OTA to develop healthy routines and practices that can prevent pain flare-ups or, at least, lessen their severity. Patients also learn to manage flare-ups in a personalized way.
All of this requires OTs and OTAs to work closely with clients, learning their routines and patterns of pain triggers, and identifying facets of their current practices that ought to be modified in order to contain their chronic pain. In this way, these occupational therapy professionals serve their clients as counselors, helping them to create and enjoy a life as free of chronic pain as possible. The USC study found significant improvement in quality of life and reduction in chronic pain from the use of these methods.
As the aging baby-boom population seeks an active and independent lifestyle, while facing aliments commonly associated with aging, they are helping to drive the need for more occupational therapy professionals. In fact, the Occupational Therapy Assistant career field is growing, and OTAs are in high demand. The Bureau of Labor Statics predicts 40% growth in the field between 2014 and 2024, far faster than the national average.
Stories like the one above give aspiring OTAs one more reason to keep moving toward their goals. Cleveland University – Kansas City (CUKC) provides OTA training consistent with the “lifestyle redesign” philosophy reviewed in the USC study. Graduates don’t just work with clients; they partner with them to develop long-term solutions for pain and other issues.
If you think an Occupational Therapy Assistant career could be right for you, talk with an admissions advisor. CUKC offers an accelerated Associate of Arts in Occupational Therapy Assistant degree program that can be completed in as little as 2 years. The CUKC degree prepares students for national certification and professional job opportunities in Occupational Therapy. Cleveland University-Kansas City is a nonprofit, private, health-focused university located in Overland Park, Kansas a suburb of Kansas City.