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Occupational Therapy Assistant
AWARD OFFERED Associate in Applied Science Degree
Occupational therapy assistants work under the direction of occupational therapists to provide rehabilitative services to persons with mental, physical, emotional, or developmental impairments. The ultimate goal is to improve clients’ quality of life and ability to perform daily activities. For example, occupational therapy assistants help injured workers re-enter the labor force by teaching them how to compensate for lost motor skills or help individuals with learning disabilities increase their independence.
Activities range from teaching the proper method of moving from a bed into a wheelchair to the best exercise to stretch and limber the muscles of the hand. Assistants monitor an individual’s activities to make sure that they are performed correctly and provide encouragement. They also record their client’s progress for the occupational therapist. If the treatment is not having the intended effect, or the client is not improving as expected, the therapist may alter the treatment program in hopes of obtaining better results. In addition, occupational therapy assistants document the billing of the client’s health insurance provider.
An associate’s degree or a certificate from an accredited community college or technical school is generally required to qualify for occupational therapy assistant jobs. Wallace State’s Occupational Therapy Assistant program is offered on the WSCC campus.
OTAs are employed in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, home health agencies, private practices and other specialized health care settings.
Employment of occupational therapy assistants and aides is expected to grow through 2014. Demand for occupational therapy assistants will continue to rise because of the increasing number of individuals with disabilities or limited function. Job growth will result from an aging population, including the baby-boom generation, which will need more occupational therapy services. Increasing demand will also result from advances in medicine that allow more people with critical problems to survive and then need rehabilitative therapy.
Median annual earnings of occupational therapy assistants were $53,240 in May 2012, with the highest 10 percent earning more than $73,120. (Source: U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Allen Keener, Program Director