There is no better recognition of the benefits provided by occupational therapy than an article detailing how useful occupational therapy practitioners are – including occupational therapy assistants (OTAs). What does an occupational therapy assistant do? OTAs work directly with clients, providing help, hope, and healing.
Valuable Help for Those Who Need it
Chances are, you already know someone who deserves expert assistance with developmental, sensory, mental, or emotional challenges. Occupational therapy bridges the gap between where someone is…and where they want to go. (Check out this six-part blog series about what OTAs do.)
Occupational therapy is delivered by a team consisting of an occupational therapy assistant (OTA) and an occupational therapist (OT). The OTA uses knowledge and creativity to carry out the treatment plan, monitoring progress toward goals, and adjusting treatment exercises and activities as needed.
OTA: A Coach, A Mentor, a Person Who Cares for People
Some people, when seeing “occupational” in the OTA’s job title, say it sounds like an OTA’s only purpose is to help someone return to work. Sometimes that is what OTAs do, such as in the case of a machinist recovering from a hand injury. With the direct help and guidance of an OTA immediately after surgery, recovery time is often shortened, and there’s a smooth transition back to the workforce. Plus, the OTA-OT team can match expectations by an employer to employee capabilities.
There’s evidence for this efficiency. Medical Care Research and Review, reporting on a study by health policy researchers, noted that only additional spending in occupational therapy produced a significant association with lower hospital readmission rates for four major health incidents.
Occupational therapy practices and techniques help people of all ages live their best possible life. A few examples:
What Does an Occupational Therapy Assistant Do for Kids?
Quite often, OTAs team up children who are struggling with school expectations, social interactions, or both.
As the person who interacts with kids one-on-one, OTAs are the ones who can use occupational therapy practices and methods to elevate a child’s ability to be independent and have self-confidence.
What Does an Occupational Therapist Assistant Di for Senior Adults?
Even in first-world countries like the U.S., more than 65% of people over age 80 have five to nine health ailments, ranging from hearing difficulties to significant cognitive confusion.
An OTA spends time with a client to see what the person can do and what he or she might need help with. The OTA can also discuss recommendations with the family or other caregivers. Sometimes, only a simple change in routine is enough – perhaps removing loose rugs in the home to prevent a fall. Other clients may need specific assistive tools and devices or benefit from home modifications, such as a ramp to the front door.
What Does an Occupational Therapy Assistant Do for Emotional/Mental Challenges?
Occupational therapy practitioners are active participants in the mental and emotional health of a community. You’ll find OTAs working with individuals in homeless and battered women shelters, correctional facilities, group homes, workplaces, schools, and speaking to community groups.
Topics and issues OTAs can assist with include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD, bipolar disorder, depression, autism, and sensory processing difficulties.
Career Outlook for an Occupational Therapy Assistant
The career description site owlgruru.com gives awards the OTA position an “A” rating for a mix of career satisfaction, pay, and working environment A 2019 report by U.S. News and World Report says an OTA position is one the “best health care support jobs” available.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics sees OTA job growth increasing 31% from 2018 to 2028. A first-year salary of more than $41,000 (plus benefits) is common, and the median annual salary for all working OTAs is $59,052, according to data from Salary.com.
The 2-Year OTA Degree: 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 healthcare degree programs through its College of Chiropractic and its College of Health Sciences.
The OTA program at CUKC leads to an Associate of Applied Science degree (A.A.S.) in Occupational Therapy Assistant. Our two-year degree program is fully accredited by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). The curriculum prepares students to become a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA). Our program is fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE).
Eight-week courses immerse you in 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.
Looking for answers to the question of “What does an occupational therapy assistant do?” We’ve already compiled this information into a free ebook titled Your Complete Guide to an Occupational Therapy Assistant Career.