What Does An Occupational Therapy Assistant Do?

Working in tandem with occupational therapists, occupational therapy assistants help patients who are trying to recover from various physical and mental difficulties that affect their ability to function normally. Basically, patients first see occupational therapists that assess their condition. After evaluating the patient, occupational therapists work with occupational therapy assistants to come up with a treatment plan that will improve the patient’s quality of life and enable them to carry out their activities on their own.

Depending on what the treatment plan is, occupational therapy assistants may assist the patients in performing stretches and specific exercises that facilitate recovery. They also teach clients how to manipulate specialized devices that enable them to do daily activities like eating and walking even without the assistance of other people. They work with individuals who have suffered from injuries and assist them throughout the rehabilitation process. The strength and flexibility of the muscles are often affected when a person gets injured. In order to help the injured patient, occupational therapy assistants have to teach the rehabilitative exercises sequentially to avoid strain and maximize the effect.

Occupational therapy assistants also work with the elderly who are suffering from stroke. In these instances, one intervention involves teaching patients how to speak again since this physical condition can affect the muscles involved in speech. For patients who are suffering from dementias like Alzheimer’s disease that could lead them to throw tantrums or act out in public, occupational therapy assistants help them by reminding them of their behavioral skills. They may also help them communicate their needs better to healthcare providers, loved ones and fellow residents of a nursing care facility.

Occupational therapy assistants also work with children who are diagnosed with developmental disabilities. They guide kids in play activities geared towards helping them socialize and coordinate their movements. They may also work together with school psychologists, parents and teachers to help children who are suffering from medical conditions or mental problems. For children who are having problems concentrating in the classroom, occupational therapy assistants may help increase their attention spans by letting them repeat exercises like ball throwing using only one hand or doing exercises that let them develop their balance and coordination. The exercises that occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants provide are specifically tailored to the needs of each student.

Occupational therapy assistants may also help occupational therapists in helping individuals suffering from post traumatic stress (PTS) regain their skills so they can lead productive lives. The mental injury that impacts the brain of those with PTS can affect certain functions that prevent them from walking, dressing or even eating on their own. They may also continue to get flashbacks about the event that triggered the condition which can debilitate them. Occupational therapy assistants guide them in exercises that would allow them to live independently once more as well as teach them how to handle flashbacks so that it won’t cripple them from their daily activities.

When working with patients who have been impaired for life in a certain body part due to an accident or illness or as a result of an inborn condition, occupational therapy assistants empower them by teaching how to effectively use wheelchairs or artificial arms or legs so that they can still remain as independent as possible. These devices enable a patient to still move around or handle objects even when their extremities have been cut off or are not anymore functional. Under the guidance of occupational therapy assistants, persons with disabilities learn how to maximize the use of these mobility aids so that these become a natural extension of their bodies.

Career Spotlight: Occupational Therapy Assistant

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