What Do OTAs Do to Help Stroke Survivors?
What Do OTAs Do to Help Stroke Survivors?
Communications Staff

At the heart of today's expanding occupational therapy (OT) profession are the graduates of an occupational therapy assistant program – the occupational therapy assistant (OTA). What do OTAs do for those fighting the after-effects of a stroke? OTAs help people go from "I want to do this" to "Now I can do this."

Occupational therapy practitioners like OTAs and occupational therapists (OTs) use their expertise and patient care instincts to help clients perform at the maximum level they can. OTAs become familiar with each client's personality, daily life goals, abilities, and expectations to optimize their occupational therapy experience.

So, what do OTAs do for a stroke survivor? A few examples:

  • Demonstrate a technique that allows someone to get dressed unassisted or prepare a meal
  • Adapt to a change in cognitive thinking ability by compensating for memory or organizational difficulties through daily planners, checklists, and tablets
  • Make up for a loss in arm or hand strength by using adaptive tools to open a jar or reach up into a cabinet.

Although the therapy elements for each client will vary, there is one unifying answer to the question of "What do OTAs do?" They leverage their OT knowledge, a talent for encouraging, and a love for people to bring hope and independence to clients and their families.

What Do OTAs Do to Make a Difference?

For someone recovering from a stroke, think about a client having to overcome a common post-stroke after-effect: hemiplegia ­– weakness on one side of the body.

OTAs know that increasing upper body strength is important. They also need to guard against introducing a shoulder injury or pain that might lengthen the rehabilitation process. So instead of going to weighted exercises immediately, the OT team evaluates the client's current abilities. Less strenuous range-of-motion exercises might be the right first step.

Post-stroke Recovery: What Do OTAs Do?

  • Demonstrate assistive technology and tools that increase self-confidence and inspire independence
  • Help to re-engage in community activities
  • Perform worksite evaluations and recommend modifications
  • Develop coping strategies to support psychosocial health and well-being
  • Suggest healthy lifestyle habits and routines to minimize the risk of a secondary stroke
  • Retrain daily self-care skills
  • Recommend home modifications, such as ramps, stair handrails, or wheelchair and stair lifts.
  • Assess in identifying when or if the person can return to driving by using an evaluation that covers physical, cognitive, and visual-perceptual abilities.

Beyond Stroke Therapy: A Whole-Person Approach

In addition, OT/OTA teams not only develop ways for stroke survivors to become as independent as possible but also work with the client's immediate family members in how they can assist in recovery. OT is a whole-person approach to patient care.

Occupational therapy practitioners also understand that physical rehabilitation is only part of the recovery scenario for life-interrupting injuries and conditions. More information on how OTAs help people of all ages is found in this blog.

Best of all, society is recognizing the value of OT professionals. The demand for OTAs and salary levels support this.

What Do OTAs Do? Find Out at Cleveland University-Kansas City

Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC) is a nonprofit, private, healthcare-focused university in Overland Park, Kansas, in the Kansas City area. The University's academic programs lead to many health care professions, including the 2-year Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree in Occupational Therapy Assistant.

In the CUKC accelerated occupational therapy assistant program, the learning formula focuses on one or two courses during each 8-week session. That allows you to devote all your time and energy to mastering those courses before moving on to others.

You can start the CUKC occupational therapy assistant program when you're ready. CUKC has classes beginning each spring, summer, and fall.

Connect with a CUKC advisor today, and download your copy of this free ebook: Your Complete Guide to the Occupational Therapy Assistant Career.

What do OTAs do? Click here