Helping people get back on track through occupational therapy
New program trains students to become occupational therapist assistants
By: Jeannie Peng Mansyur
There are therapists who help people improve mobility, and then there are therapists who help people to use their newfound mobility to complete everyday tasks.
San Jacinto College is introducing a new associate degree program this fall to train those who want to work as assistants to occupational therapists. This important role, under the direction of an occupational therapist, allows assistants to help patients with therapeutic activities like stretching and other exercises, lead children with developmental disabilities in play activities that promote coordination and socialization, teach patients how to use special therapy equipment to make daily life easier, record patients’ progress, transport patients, prepare treatment areas and other duties.
“Job demand is high for this area,” said Dr. Alexander Okwonna, San Jacinto College South Campus dean of natural sciences and health sciences. “We’re anticipating a 43 percent job growth just for occupational therapist assistants by 2024.”
Okwonna said this increase could be expected because of responses to the needs of the aging baby-boomer generation and increased access to occupational therapy services because of the federal health insurance reform. He added that occupational therapist assistants can make approximately $66,000 a year.
The San Jacinto College occupational therapist assistant program will include coursework in biology, anatomy and physiology, psychology, kinesiology and a variety of occupational therapy courses. For more information about health science programs at San Jacinto College, visit sanjac.edu/program/health-sciences.