What Does an Occupational Therapy Assistant Do?
What Does an Occupational Therapy Assistant Do?
Communications Staff

Imagine how many more occupational therapy assistants (OTAs) there could be to treat those facing developmental, sensory, mental, or emotional challenges if everyone knew what students in occupational therapy assistant schools knew? OTAs are the ones helping people of all ages recover faster from injuries, re-learn daily living, and adapt to developmental challenges.

Seriously, What Does an Occupational Therapy Assistant Do?

At first, the term "occupational" in OTA makes it sound like the job is only about getting back to work. In reality, it's more about getting individuals back to doing everyday activities that "occupy" their time.

Sometimes you're working with children who have developmental delays to catch up to their peer groups. Other times you're getting to know the daily routine of a senior adult recovering from a heart attack, stroke, or surgery.

It's All About Activities, Plans, and Encouragement

The OTA's goal is to help individuals live as independently as they possibly can. OTAs are highly skilled, compassionate practitioners who work in partnership with the people they serve.

  • For an injury recovery situation, the OTA helps assess the person's current capability and what he or she wants to accomplish. Those recovering from hip surgery, for example, need to know how to get in and out of bed without putting undue stress on a body that's healing.
  • Someone who has a mental health condition may feel alone and isolated, so the OTA might carry out a series of activities to improve that person's self-esteem and increase their confidence in social situations.
  • A child who has fallen behind developmentally may be frustrated because they struggle to accomplish daily living activities ranging from getting dressed to staying organized. An OTA is there to observe, guide, and make suggestions, such as how to break a task down into simple steps.
  • Many OTAs like the idea that no single day is like the other, and that OTAs enjoy working with people of all ages and backgrounds. The work setting might be in schools, hospitals, rehab centers, or someone's home.

Meaningful Work, Teamwork Opportunity

Through classes with experienced instructors and practice in simulated home/apartment labs, your occupational therapy assistant school will teach you the exercises, techniques, approaches, and methods that will achieve success for individuals under your care.

Still not sure how to answer a friend's question of "OK, but what does an occupational therapy assistant do?" A simple, direct answer is this: they are health care professionals who love interacting with people and like finding creative solutions that give people the independence and skills needed for daily living.

Becoming an occupational therapy assistant means you're working one-on-one with the patient to achieve therapy goals, but also part of a team figuring out the best therapy options. Working smoothly with therapy teams and individuals will make you more successful in your career and get more attention from employers. Take time each day to work as a team with your classmates on problem-solving approaches from different perspectives.

The World Needs OTAs

Right now, the health care industry is expanding rapidly, and OTAs are right in the center of this growth. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 24 percent increase in employment for OTAs through 2026.

Demand for OTAs is being fed by the aging baby-boom and millennial generations, who increasingly want to stay active and live on their own as long as possible. Meanwhile, parents with children who have unique needs are discovering how occupational therapy knowledge – delivered by OTAs – can increase the family's quality of life.

The 2-year Occupational Therapy Assistant School at CUKC

Explore Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC), to learn more about the Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Occupational Therapy Assistant Degree Program. The spacious CUKC campus is in Overland Park, Kan., a highly rated suburb of the Kansas City metro.

The OTA degree includes 16 core courses, integrated with the required 16 weeks of fieldwork. Coursework is presented in eight-week segments, which reinforces learning. Another advantage of the occupational therapy assistant school at CUKC is not having to wait long to begin your OTA career. CUKC offers program start dates in the summer, spring, and fall.

Eager to explore answers to the question "What does an occupational therapy assistant do" in depth? Download this FREE ebook from CUKC, Your Complete Guide to an Occupational Therapy Assistant Career today!

Free Ebook about OTA careers!