Occupational therapy assistants work with occupational therapists in helping patients who are recovering from surgeries, brain trauma, diseases, dementia or those who are in need of rehabilitation to learn how to perform the basic activities of daily living.
Some of the key functions of occupational therapy assistants are assisting patients in performing exercises, stretching and other therapeutic activities to improve their mobility and coordination, teaching patients to use assistive devices, work with children patients who have developmental delays/mental problems and record and report the progress of the patients to the occupational therapist.
They are also expected to perform clerical tasks and assists patients in the treatment areas. Occupational therapy assistants are also expected to set up the treatment area and collaborate with the occupational therapist in preparing a treatment plan for the patients.
Most of occupational therapy assistants are employed in the offices of physicians, occupational and speech therapists and audiologists. Others work in nursing care facilities, hospitals, elementary and secondary schools and even provide home health services.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary of occupational therapy assistants in May 2010 was $51,010. The demand for occupational therapy assistants is also expected to rise to 43 percent within 2010-2020. Since the aging population is growing, the demand for occupational therapy assistant who will help elderly clients with bone problems such as arthritis and osteoporosis.
To become an occupational therapy assistant, one must be a high school graduate and an associate degree that can be earned in a university or community college. An associate degree can be earned after two years. Occupational therapy assistants need a license before they can practice. The program that they must enroll in must be accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education to earn a license after finishing the program. To become certified occupational therapy assistants, they need to pass the exam being administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy.
Here are some of the Top Occupational Therapy Assistant Schools
St. Catherine University
St. Catherine University ranks 14th among Midwest top regional universities by U.S. News and World Report in 2012. This university offers a two year occupational therapy assistant associate degree program. Their campus is located in Minnesota. They train occupational therapy assistants to have strong leadership skills and high level of ethical values. Students are also given hand-on experience in the clinical field and are prepared well to become certified occupational therapy assistants.
Pennsylvania College of Technology
Pennsylvania College of Technology offers an occupational therapy assistant associate degree program that’s accredited by ACOTE. Graduate of this program are eligible to take the National Certification Exam that is administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). After completion of the program and passing the exam, the students become certified occupational therapy assistants.
Touro College offers a two-year, occupational therapy assistant associate degree program wherein the first eighteen months are evening courses while the remaining five months include daytime fieldwork. This offers great flexibility in terms of schedule for those students who are working.
Southwestern Oklahoma State University
Southwestern Oklahoma State University offers an associate in science degree for those who want to be an occupational therapy assistant. The two-year program is accredited by ACOTE and graduates are eligible to take the national certification exam administered by NBCOT.
Manchester Community College
Manchester Community College offers an Occupational Therapy Assistant associate degree program. GPA requirement for admission is 2.5 or better. MCC also offers online learning programs that are great for working students.