OTA and PTA are two very popular fields within the area of health care and they both share some similarities, yet both have some differences. These two professions work to help people recover after an illness or injury, or help people learn to cope with disabilities. Occupational Therapy Assistant addresses the common basic functions and tasks, such as dressing, walking, shopping, eating, or writing. Physical Therapy Assistant focuses on a broader spectrum of work such as stretching, moving, driving, walking or lifting. Occupational therapy assistants, and those who are physical therapy assistants, are most commonly referred to as OTA and PTA. At its most basic level, their job is to work with a team of doctors and other health care providers and one of the larger groups they work with are disabled veterans.
Occupational Therapy Assistants
OTA generally work in a more education background before entering the profession and often have an associate degree in some sort of medical or therapy program. The training program that the degree is through also must be accredited in order to be a licensed OTA. These programs can be found through local colleges or technical-vocational schools, and often can be completed after just two years of classes and study. Courses that will be covered in these programs include biology, psychology, anatomy, pediatric, wellness, psychology, veteran services, and health and assisted therapy devices. OTA are generally required to be licensed, and OTA continue their education to get more training and certification if needed. Specialized training is also available to help OTA prepare for their work and service with disabled veterans who are recovering from injury or dealing with long term disabilities and health issues. These individuals focus on helping veterans get back to a semblance of normalcy in their lives after recovering from injury or illness stemming from their military service.
Physical Therapy Assistants
PTA study many of the same topics and class material as an OTA will, but they will also have more of a focus on subjects such as algebra, science, English, humanities, and psychology. They also have a focus on biological and wellness topics, too. PTA classes, schools, and programs are usually available in the same places as the OTA programs. In addition to basic coursework that is required, PTA spend time with clinics and on the job training so they can get a feel for what their job will entail. Many will receive hands on training at rehab centers, nursing homes, VA hospitals, and other centers where disabled veterans need rehabilitation services and therapy- both occupational and physical.
The Work They Do
To someone from outside the health and wellness field, the work of OTAs and PTAs tends to look pretty similar. OTAs will be more likely to work with children to help them overcome developmental issues affecting coordination and mobility or work with seniors on practical skills and real life activities. OTAs help patients learn how to use assistive tools that help with basic functions and processes that might be hampered by injury or conditions such as stroke or a disability. PTAs are the ones who are more likely to help patients learn walk with a cane or work on muscle building and strength exercises. Disabled veterans will learn how to walk, move, and be self sufficient again and if wheelchairs, braces, or other devices are needed, they will learn how to operate these in day to day situations with the help of the OTAs and PTAs.