Occupational therapy is a vital health care service that uses “occupation,” meaning purposeful activity, as the basis for treatment of people with a wide variety of physical, developmental, and emotional disabilities.
Occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants help disabled people of all ages acquire or regain the skills they need to live independent, productive, and satisfying lives. They work in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, public and private schools, and home health agencies.
Occupational therapy assistants work under the guidance of occupational therapists. They may choose or construct equipment that help people to function more independently; they may carry out treatment activities for individuals or groups of patients; and they work closely with families of patients who are preparing to return home.
To become an occupational therapy assistant, you must complete an educational program. The majority of these are two-year associate degree programs like the one at Shawnee State University. Studies include basic academic subjects, human growth and development, the functioning of the human body, and occupational therapy principles and techniques. The OTA program requires two, eight-week rotations of supervised practical experience in a variety of health care settings.
After successfully completing the educational program, you are eligible to take the national certification examination for the occupational therapy assistant. Many states, including Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia, also require licensing by their respective states to practice occupational therapy.
The Occupational Therapy Program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), located at 4720 Montgomery Lane, Suite 200, Bethesda, MD 20824-1220. AOTA's phone number is (301) 652-AOTA. www.acoteonline.org
Graduates are able to sit for the national certification examination for the occupational therapy assistant administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, Inc. (NBCOT); however, the NBCOT sets its own criteria for taking the exam, which may include questions on the applicant's criminal history.
For more information on these limitations, you can contact NBCOT at (301)990-7979. After successful completion of this exam, the individual will be a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA). Most states require licensure in order to practice; however, state licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT Certification Examination.