Rehabilitation Assistant Education Requirements and Career Info

Rehabilitation assistants provide aid to occupational and physical therapists. Under the direction of a therapist, rehabilitation assistants help perform therapeutic methods on patients and assist with healing exercises and balance training. In many states, rehabilitation assistants must earn at least a 2-year degree to seek employment.

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Rehabilitation Assistant Education Requirements

Many rehabilitation assistants go into the field with only a high school diploma; however, most states require at least an associate's degree to enter the field. Those wishing to obtain rehabilitation assistant training can do so through physical therapy assistant or occupational therapy assistant associate's degree programs offered at vocational schools and community colleges.

Rehabilitation assistant education programs generally consist of core courses in human growth and development, medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, physical survey, patient care skills and rehabilitation therapy. Students also gain firsthand knowledge of the equipment and tools typically used by occupational and physical therapists and an understanding of the different ailments and injuries that can affect mobility in patients. Rehabilitation assistant degree programs also prepare students to organize non-medical charts and forms and provide general clerical assistance to rehabilitation center staff.

Career Info

During a typical work day, rehabilitation assistants might organize and clean up therapy treatment areas for patients, set up and monitor therapy equipment, assist patients in performing exercise moves or using crutches and take patients' vital signs. Rehabilitation assistants require a moderate degree of strength as they frequently kneel, bend and stand for prolonged periods of time in addition to transporting and lifting patients.

Rehabilitation assistants usually perform many administrative duties, including retrieving and filing insurance paperwork, answering phones, ordering supplies and working as the liaison between therapists, patients and their families. They might also assist therapists in organizing treatments and daily activities for patients, as well as aid in patient follow-ups.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), rehabilitation assistants' hours vary depending on their work environment (www.bls.gov). Many work evening and weekend hours to better accommodate patients' schedules. In 2008, rehabilitation assistants held approximately 109,900 jobs. The BLS predicts job growth of 30% for assistants working in occupational therapy and 35% for those in physical therapy between 2008 and 2018.

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