If you’ve ever been in an accident that required you to attend physical therapy or have seen a family member or friend relearn to walk or dress him or herself following an accident, you’ll know how important occupational therapist assists (OTAs) and physiotherapist assistants (PTAs) are. These professionals assist people who have often been through a life-altering experience that requires them to perceiver when they want to give up. In addition, they assist developmentally and physically challenged people to gain the skills they need to attain a level of independence. In these times of rehabilitation, OTAs and PTAs are encouraging and patient. They also understand that sometimes the progress is slow.
In order to train for this sensitive but essential field, students must attend an occupation therapy university or college programs, such as Centennial College’s Occupational Therapist Assistant/ Physiotherapy Assistant undertaking, which results in an Ontario College Diploma. If you are interested in applying for this undertaking, you must present at minimum an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) or equivalent or be 19 years of age or older. In addition, you must also possess: Compulsory English 12C, or U or skills assessment, or equivalent and Biology 11C or U or equivalent. Possession of minimum admission requirements does not guarantee admission into the occupation therapy training.
Once students have been accepted, they participate in a variety of courses that combine practical and academic study. Specific courses within the OTA/PTA program include: Principles of Psychology (introduces learners to the theoretical and practical discipline of psychology); The Health Care System (focuses on the evolution of the Canadian Health Care System and its origins both federal and provincial); Normal Functions and Movement (provides students with an ease in handling and moving, describing the human body in motion, based on theoretical and practical study of functional movement); and many others. Through these college courses, students learn to document and complete client records, develop and implement strategies that will benefit clients, and formulate exercise plans. Students also obtain a relevant knowledge of health sciences, psychosociological sciences and health conditions.
Aside from in-classroom learning, students of this occupation therapy program participate in a fieldwork experience that provides the opportunity for application of acquired skills in a clinical setting with a range of clients. There are important fieldwork placement requirements that include CPR Level HCP (Health Care Provider) and standard first aid certification, a clear vulnerable police check prior to semester 2, immunization review form and completion of a mask fit test.
Upon graduation, students work as physiotherapist assistants or occupational therapist assistants in hospitals, nursing homes, seniors’ residences, schools, rehabilitation centres, and the private industry. Both jobs include shared tasks such as: conducting initial interviews with patients, carrying out observations, updating client records, supporting clients in reaching their goals, assisting with physical activity and exercises, and keeping work areas tidy. But what is the difference between the two professions? Occupational therapist assistants deal with treatment that helps individuals improve their ability to perform daily activities, such as dressing or feeding themselves. Physiotherapist assistants focus on the large motor functions such as strength, balance and range of motion.