What Does an Occupational Therapy Assistant Do?

Following 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 brought about by an injury, illness or disability.

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Areas of Practice

Certified occupational therapy assistants (COTAs) work within these occupational therapy practice areas.

1. Children and Youth

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

2. Productive Aging

OTAs help dementia patients through behavioral interventions (aka treatment plans), addressing personality changes that may be concerning to their families and caregivers.

3. Health and Wellness

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

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

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

6. Work and Industry

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 (COTAs) treat patients/clients in a variety of practice settings, including:

  • Homes
  • Hospitals
  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Schools
  • Skilled nursing homes
  • Therapists’ offices
  • Workplaces
OT student with older man in kitchen helping crack an egg
close up of stethoscope and iPad on desk

For More Information

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