The profession of occupational therapy provides services to individuals whose lives have been disrupted by accident or illness, birth defects, developmental problems, social or psychological problems. Occupational therapy personnel work in hospitals, schools, workshops, mental health centers, clinics and home-health agencies.
Occupational therapy assistants work under the supervision of the registered occupational therapist, helping patients achieve maximum independence in activities of daily living (ADL), instrumental activities of daily living, work, leisure and play, education and social participation.
Assistants help therapists evaluate patients to determine patient and family needs. Once treatment goals are set, the assistants may be responsible for implementing therapy by using selected activities. Assistants may also instruct patients in the use of specially-designed devices to allow people with physical disabilities to dress or feed themselves, take care of their homes or return to work.
Prospective students in the occupational therapy assistant technology program must have one year of high school biology or one semester of college anatomy and physiology and one semester of algebra.
Graduates of the program will be eligible to sit for the national certification examination for the occupational therapy assistant administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). After successful completion of this exam, the individual will be a certified occupational therapy assistant (COTA). In addition, most states require licensure in order to practice; however, states licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT Certification Examination.