Occupational therapist assistants work under direction of occupational therapists to help patients rehabilitate and improve their ability to perform tasks in working environments. Most often, they work with those individuals who have suffered, or currently suffer from a physical, mental, developmental or emotional disabling condition. Occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants often work in rehabilitation centers, hospitals and other community settings. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics occupational therapists earn a median annual salary of $70,680, with the highest 10 percent earning more than $100,430.
Occupational therapy students must have an acute understanding of how the nervous system operates to be effective, particularly when it comes to motor and sensory skills. This is important because when rehabilitating patients, a therapist must understand brain functions -- and the limitations posed by the brain resulting from a medical issue -- to know what is possible in terms of rehab and therapy. An understanding of neuroscience helps the therapist to map out options with this in mind for each patient.
Occupational Therapy for Children
Treating children medically is different for every facet of healthcare, including occupational therapy. Not only are children still developing, which presents a certain set of needs, but also children may not have the mental capability to understand the mental aspects of therapy. This course teaches students how to work with children struggling with disabilities and in need of rehabilitation. It discusses, at length, the challenges therapists face when working with children with various diseases or conditions and how to overcome those challenges for a successful therapy experience.
Occupational Therapy for Adults
An occupational therapy for adults course provides an in-depth look at those diseases and conditions that affect an adult's ability to function normally. It also goes over therapists that can be used to treat these diseases and the methods used to help patients respond better to the rehab process. The class also encourages students to explore the ways in which they can overcome common therapy fears in adult patients.
Occupational Therapy for the Elderly
Similar to children, treating the elderly requires a certain level of care and experience. An occupational therapy for the elderly course gives insight into how diseases and physical conditions affect an aging body. Moreover, since elderly individuals may not be able to utilize certain rehabilitative techniques, an occupational therapist must retain the ability to rehab their patients while considering a certain level of frailty that comes along with old age, which is taught in this course.