What do pediatrics, geriatrics and cardiology have in common? Patients in these three very different branches of medicine can benefit from occupational therapy. An occupational therapist helps people with disabling conditions to recover or develop daily living skills, such as dressing, cooking and eating. An OT's right-hand man, or woman, is the occupational therapy assistant.
This versatile occupation is proving to be a rewarding career choice for many who are returning to school to heighten employment prospects. An OTA works under the direction of an OT to provide the rehabilitative exercises and activities prescribed in the therapist's treatment plan.
The necessary education toward becoming an OTA includes earning a two-year associates degree instead of the master's degree necessary for an OT position. Employment opportunities are expected to grow much faster than average, or 30 percent through 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The BLS credits this high projected growth to the increased elderly population that is more susceptible to debilitating and chronic conditions, plus the rising number of therapists who use assistants.
Helping the elderly remain independent
Elderly patients suffering from a variety of conditions benefit from occupational therapy.
Helping children develop
Pediatric patients who can benefit from OT include premature infants, who often suffer from developmental delays.