What Does an Occupational Therapy Assistant Do?

A growing, diverse career path, occupational therapy assistants (OTAs) work under the guidance of an occupational therapist (OT) in various practice areas and settings. While the OT evaluates and develops treatment plans for clients/patients, the OTA puts those plans into action, teaching individuals how to overcome the challenges of performing daily activities because of an injury, illness, or disability.

Defining Patient vs. Client:

Patient: Someone who is in the care of the medical community.

Client: Someone who receives medical services but is free to come and go.

Areas of Practice

Certified occupational therapy assistants (COTA) work within occupational therapy practice areas.

1. Children and Youth

Example: OTAs work with children who are at risk for developing disabilities, helping them improve their motor skills, cognitive skills, and sensory processing to minimize the potential of developmental delays.

2. Productive Aging

Example: OTAs help dementia patients through behavioral interventions (aka treatment plans), addressing personality changes that are concerning their families and caregivers.

3. Health and Wellness

Example: OTAs help people with arthritis, teaching them how to manage inflammation or identifying orthotic devices that help them control pain, which improves their self-esteem.

4. Mental Health

Example: OTAs teach individuals with Down syndrome how to gain their independence through self-care activities such as eating, dressing, and playing.

5. Rehabilitation and Disability

Example: OTAs help people overcome physical challenges, recommending mobility changes to everyday equipment such as adding foot straps to bicycle pedals.

6. Work and Industry

Example: OTAs help employees with work-related lower back injuries through supervised therapeutic exercises, work reconditioning, and on-site interventions.

Practice Settings

Certified occupational therapy assistants (COTA) treat patients/clients in a variety of practice settings, including:

  • Homes
  • Hospitals
  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Schools
  • Skilled nursing homes
  • Therapists offices
  • Work places

Contact us to get moving toward a career as an occupational therapy assistant.

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