What does an Occupational Therapy Assistant Do?
Basically, they help people recovering from illness or injury to get occupied again if they’ve been unoccupied for some time.
People work; that’s an occupation and an occupational therapy assistant will help someone get back into the swing of their occupation after an enforced layoff. But for occupational therapists, it doesn’t end there; they call a lot of things ‘occupations’.
Hobbies are an occupation; so is socialising, as in both cases, you’re occupied while doing it. An occupational therapy assistant will help you get your hobby or social life back up and running after an injury or illness. In fact, anything that occupies your time occupies the attention of an occupational therapy assistant – the occupations of everyday life.
And never before have the words ‘occupy’ and ‘occupation’ been used so many times in three paragraphs. From here on in we’ll use the acronym OTA.
So what keeps an OTA occupied?
Be it an illness, injury, or any psychological difficulty, it can be hard to get back into the swing of things after a long period of inactivity. An OTA works with individuals and groups to rebuild interest and action.
It might be young kids struggling with their development or the elderly as their development begins to go backwards. It might be people suffering through mental health problems who need care and encouragement as they try to regain lost confidence. And it might be people at the recovery end of acute care.
Helping kids grow
All kids deserve the chance to be the best they can be no matter what challenges they face. And that includes kids with acute disabilities such as cerebral palsy and spina bifida. It includes kids with learning, sensory and attention difficulties. And it includes kids coping with slow development or an injury.
As an OTA, you’ll work with these kids and their parents, as well as doctors and teachers, to create, an active and happily occupied life. You might help fine tune motor skills and coordination to help kids play sports or even just dress themselves. And your work with kids could be anything from teaching them good habits to teaching parents how to continue the work.
Making an acute difference
Indeed, as an OTA, you can make a massive difference in the lives of those recovering from surgery or dealing with anything from HIV to severe mental dysfunction. You’ll work alongside an occupational therapist to make hospital time better and discharge sooner.
Training to be an OTA
Most OTAs have a bachelor degree or Cert III, though some have diplomas. Naturally, the higher your qualifications, the better the position you can secure.
A registered occupational therapist assistant can expect to earn anything from $35,000 to $60,000: a good career with plenty of opportunity to progress into a full occupational therapist position.