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What Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides Do

Occupational therapy assistants and aides work under the direction of occupational therapists in treating patients with injuries, illnesses, or disabilities through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. They help these patients develop, recover, and improve the skills needed for daily living and working. For more information, see the profile on occupational therapists.

Occupational therapy assistants are typically more directly involved in giving therapy. Occupational therapy aides typically do support activities.


Occupational therapy assistants typically do the following:

Occupational therapy aides typically do the following:

Occupational therapy assistants collaborate with occupational therapists to develop a treatment plan for each patient. Then, the occupational therapy assistant carries out the plan with the patient. Activities in the plans range from teaching the proper way to move from a bed into a wheelchair to the best way to stretch and limber one’s muscles.

For example, an occupational therapy assistant might work with injured workers to help them get back into the work force by teaching them how to work around lost motor skills. An occupational therapy assistant might work with people with learning disabilities to teach them skills that let them be more independent.

Assistants monitor activities to make sure patients are doing them correctly. They also encourage the patients. They record the patient’s progress so the therapist can change the treatment plan if the patient is not getting the desired results.

Occupational therapy aides typically prepare materials and assemble equipment used during treatment. Aides fill out insurance forms and other paperwork and are responsible for a range of clerical tasks, such as scheduling appointments and answering the telephone. 

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition