A person working with Occupational Therapist to give support and rehabilitative services to patients having mental, emotional, physical or developmental disabilities is known as Occupational Therapist Assistant. They need to work with those who have been disabled since birth or with those who have acquired disabilities due to some accident. Their objective is to assist the patient in following treatment plan designed by the therapist. The Occupational Therapist Assistant do exercise programs and use special devices like silverware for stroke victims or braces for making the patient move from place to place. The exercise performed can be physical or can be emotional and mental strengthening.
Job growth as an Occupational Therapist Assistant is much faster as compare to growth in other type of jobs. The growth in this job profile is faster because of the ageing population which is higher in number and also because ageing people are living longer. A higher percentage of people who acquire this job are elderly people. As per government's Bureau of Labor and Statistics expectation the increase in the growth of this profession will be 30% between 2008 and 2018. Apart from this people having formal training or experience as Occupational Therapist Assistant will have more chances of finding jobs than that of holding a high school diploma.
To become an Occupational Therapist Assistant you need to attend a vocational school or college recognized by ACOTE i.e. Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education. After attending the college or school one becomes eligible for the national exam that is compulsory for licensing purpose. Currently United States have more than 135 accredited schools. The program duration is two years with subjects like anatomy, health care principles, physiology, medical terminology and if required, English. Second year is inclusive of courses that are useful to Occupational Therapy like physical disabilities, gerontology, psychology, mental health and pediatrics. After completing the course minimum of 16 weeks internship from an approved clinic is also required.
Licensing regulation differs from State to State, hence it becomes essential to confirm this with state of residency's licensing division for details. After the satisfactorily completion of testing and schooling requirement certificate is given to assistants. In most of the cases National certification is separate from state certification, however some states need the national exam to suit their regulations. One who pass national exam is awarded with the certificate of Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant which is also called as COTA status.