Occupational therapist assistants and aides work
under the direction of occupational therapists to
provide rehabilitative services to persons with
mental, physical, emotional, or developmental
impairments. The ultimate goal is to improve
clients’ quality of life and ability to perform
daily activities. For example, occupational
therapist assistants help injured workers re-enter
the labor force by teaching them how to compensate
for lost motor skills or help individuals with
learning disabilities increase their independence.
Occupational therapist assistants, commonly known
as occupational therapy assistants, help clients
with rehabilitative activities and exercises
outlined in a treatment plan developed in
collaboration with an occupational therapist.
Activities range from teaching the proper method of
moving from a bed into a wheelchair to the best way
to stretch and limber the muscles of the hand.
Assistants monitor an individual’s activities to
make sure that they are performed correctly and to
provide encouragement. They also record their
client’s progress for the occupational therapist. If
the treatment is not having the intended effect, or
the client is not improving as expected, the
therapist may alter the treatment program in hopes
of obtaining better results. In addition,
occupational therapist assistants document the
billing of the client’s health insurance provider.
Occupational therapist aides typically prepare
materials and assemble equipment used during
treatment. They are responsible for a range of
clerical tasks, including scheduling appointments,
answering the telephone, restocking or ordering
depleted supplies, and filling out insurance forms
or other paperwork. Aides are not licensed, so the
law does not allow them to perform as wide a range
of tasks as occupational therapist assistants.