What Does an Occupational Therapy Assistant Do at Work?

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What does an occupational therapy assistant do? Where do they work? Who are their patients? Learn why and how OTAs personalize care for each of their patients. Learn about their daily tasks, their various roles, where they work, and how you can become one.

OTA using stretching bands with patient

Occupational Therapy Assistants collaborate with occupational therapists to create treatment plans, implement those plans with a focus on individualized care, and work directly with clients from all walks of life. Occupational Therapy Assistants (OTAs) provide specialized care that is tailored to the individual to make their daily life more comfortable and help people remain independent following an injury, due to an illness, or a disability.

So, what does an occupational therapy assistant do? St. Kate’s online OTA program will prepare you to help people live more meaningful lives, by implementing processes and adaptations into your clients’ daily routines to ensure they can function comfortably.

Occupational Therapy Assistants Give Personalized Care

Occupational therapy assistants support occupational therapists in helping people with disabilities, illnesses, and injuries, to perform activities of daily living (ADLs) — the everyday tasks one must be able to perform for independence.

Some patients, such as those with Alzheimer’s disease, may never be able to live independently, but these individuals can still benefit from occupational therapy.

What does an occupational therapy assistant do, compared with an occupational therapist? The key to understanding the relationship between OTs and OTAs is the word “support.” OTs evaluate their clients’ conditions and prescribe treatment plans to be carried out by OTAs. However, this can be a little misleading.

While occupational therapists determine treatment plans, occupational therapy assistants are generally trusted to use their expertise to get creative with treatments. Every client is different, and you will no doubt need to adjust to better accommodate and tailor a prescribed intervention.

student helping older man with stretch bands

What is Individualized Treatment?

Through individualized treatment, OTAs create a special plan for each client based on their unique needs and goals. They help people do activities and exercises that are designed especially for their goals and monitor progress to adjust to the patient’s level. They’ll change the plan as needed to help the patient continue to improve.

OTAs work alongside the occupational therapist to evaluate the individual’s abilities and needs in their daily living and work activities.

An OTA will provide guidance, instruction, education, and support throughout the process. They also provide education and training to clients, families, and caregivers.

What Does an Occupational Therapy Assistant Do With Their Clients?

Under the supervision of an OT, an OTA provides individualized therapy to individuals with physical, mental, or developmental disabilities. This treatment is designed to help patients develop, recover, or improve their daily living and work skills.

Works in a variety of settings such as hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, rehabilitation centers, schools, and client’s homes.

What Do OTAs Use to Help Them at Work?

OTAs deal with a big variety of clients, and they must adapt to each patient’s needs. To do this, they use different methods and treatments to provide the best results possible. A few examples of the aids they use are adaptive equipment, exercise equipment such as weights or machines, toys or blocks, and more.

Where Can OTAs Work?

While they can work nearly anywhere their patients need them, here are some examples of places where OTAs may work:

  • Hospitals
  • Skilled Nursing Facilities
  • Rehabilitation Centers
  • Schools
  • Home Health

If you’re someone who enjoys working in different places and interacting with many different kinds of people, a career as an OTA could be perfect for you. Your work as an OTA will empower you to help people of all ages, across a diverse area of settings.

OT helping elderly patient

You’ll Never Get Bored with These 6 Occupational Therapy Specialties.

What Is Needed to Become an OTA?

Like many professions in the healthcare world, you need to be certified before you can practice. OTAs are required at least an associate degree from an accredited OTA program, and most states require OTAs to become licensed. These programs usually require two years of full-time study and offer a hybrid of classroom and hands-on learning as part of their curriculums.

Earn Your OTA Degree from St. Kate’s in as Few as 16 Months

What an occupational therapy assistant does is incredibly valuable to clients and can have lasting effects on the OTA. Changing someone’s life for the better through occupational therapy is a rewarding and achievable career path — and one you could be on sooner than you may think.

student high-fiving elderly woman

OTAs are an integral part of the healthcare industry. In fact, due to its impressive job outlook, relatively low stress level, and work-life balance, the profession has topped U.S News and World Report’s list of Best Healthcare Jobs.

Interested in finding out more of what does an OTA do and how you can pursue an exciting career as an occupational therapy assistant? With three start dates each year and spots available now, you can start working toward becoming an OTA sooner than you might think.

Contact us, and an admissions counselor will reach out to you to speak more about our Online OTA program.

outside shot of st. kate campus

The Ultimate Guide to Occupational Therapy and OTA

Get answers to your questions about the field, about the OTA career path, and about St. Catherine University’s Online OTA program.

book with cover title: Occupational Therapy Assistant Explained