Welcome to part five of a six-part blog series that dives into the world of occupational therapy careers and those who work directly with individuals affected by various challenges: the occupational therapy assistant.
Part 1: Occupational Therapy Careers: Working with Children and Youth
Part 2: Occupational Therapy Careers: Improving Health & Wellness as an OTA
Part 3: Occupational Therapy Careers: The OTA Role in Work and Industry
Part 4: Occupational Therapy Careers: OTAs Help With Rehabilitation
Blog Series Part 5: Quality of Life
The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) lists six practice areas within occupational therapy. In Part 5 of this blog series, the topic is occupational therapy’s role in recovery from life-altering conditions or disorders for today’s senior population.
Occupational Therapy: Seeing the Whole Person
Occupational therapy (OT) practitioners take a whole person point-of-view toward better health and healing and use occupations (defined as activities that occupy someone’s day) in evaluation and treatment.
The occupational therapist (OT) and occupational therapy assistant (OTA) have distinct roles in an occupational therapy team. An OT develops and leads the treatment plan, and an OTA works directly with an individual to carry out the plan. (Go here for more about how the roles of Occupational Therapists and OTAs differ.)
How OTAs Help Senior Adults
Those choosing occupational therapy careers are finding themselves in high demand. Today’s baby-boom population is seeking a more active and independent lifestyle, yet they still face health problems associated with aging. Even in first-world countries like the U.S., more than 65% of people over age 80 have five to nine health ailments.
If a physical impairment affects living independently, the OT team can evaluate how thoroughly a person’s abilities match with their environment. Can the person move from sitting to standing without losing balance? Can the person navigate a stairway, or reach into kitchen cabinets?
After the assessment, an OTA would be active in discussing recommendations with family and other caregivers, implementing changes in routines, or introducing adaptive tools and equipment.
Sometimes the difficulty in maintaining the quality of life is due to cognitive problems rather than physical ones. Impairments involving attention, memory, problem-solving, and decision-making often affect living skills, self-care, and relationships with family and friends.
Are You Ready for an OTA Career?
If you’re drawn to a people-first profession that encourages creative problem-solving, an occupational therapy assistant degree is a terrific start to a satisfying career. Devote yourself to patient care if that’s your calling. The expertise of OTAs also makes them good candidates as a manager of a rehab program or center. Some OTAs advance in their career by adding new specialization areas or becoming an Occupational Therapist with a master’s degree.
The most common degree for becoming an OTA is the Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Occupational Therapy Assistant. The “applied” part of this two-year degree means these OTA program graduates are fully qualified to become a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA). Starting salaries for new OTAs average about $47000; experienced OTAs can make $59,000, according to the data site Salary.com
The OTA Degree Program at Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC)
Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC) is a nonprofit, private, healthcare-focused university located in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park, Kansas. CUKC specializes in health science degree programs through its College of Chiropractic and its College of Health Sciences. Overland Park is a city known for livability, affordability, and safety.
The OTA program in the CUKC College of Health Sciences leads to an Associate of Applied Science degree (A.A.S.) in Occupational Therapy Assistant. This occupational therapy assistant degree program prepares students to become a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants (COTA).
Eight-week courses immerse you into your class subjects, hands-on instruction is the norm, and completing the OTA degree is accomplished in as little as two years. Small class sizes ensure personalized instruction, and there are three class starts per year: spring, summer, or fall.
Lean more about the CUKC occupational therapy assistant degree today. You can also download a free ebook about the OTA profession: Your Complete Guide to an Occupational Therapy Assistant Career.