Rehabilitation Therapy Assistant
Medical advances permit a growing number of children and adults to live successfully with disabilities. Clients, who have experienced an injury or a health condition that has impacted their ability to function in day-to-day life, can maximize their physical, mental and social abilities through rehabilitation. Under the supervision of an occupational therapist or physiotherapist, the therapist assistant works with clients across the lifespan with the goal of helping the clients to be active participants in society. Therapist assistants also support facility administration by managing therapeutic supplies and maintaining equipment.
SAIT's Rehabilitation Therapist Assistant diploma program trains students to become knowledgeable and skilled assistants in occupational and physical therapy. Course content meets or exceeds the essential competencies required for support personnel in both professions.
The Rehabilitation Therapy Assistant program is two years in length and is comprised of four semesters. The first semester of the program addresses key concepts of rehabilitation and healthcare delivery. Observational visits to the clinical settings assist the student in integrating knowledge of normal physical and psychological function with basic therapeutic skills. More advanced rehabilitation concepts, common health conditions and therapeutic skills used in occupational therapy and physical therapy are taught in the second semester. Professionalism and communication skills are also emphasized and practiced when the student completes a two-week practicum.
The third semester of the program, advanced therapeutic skills and complex health conditions are integrated in a second two-week practicum. In the fourth and final semester, professional practices are integrated in the 12-week practicum. The student returns to SAIT for the final two weeks of the semester for comprehensive practical examinations and to consolidate his/her experiences.
Students must be disciplined for learning through self-study, face-to-face at SAIT, and in a clinical setting and online. Practica experiences are unpaid and may occur outside the Calgary area.
Most classes are taught at SAIT's Mayland Heights campus but some will be taught at SAIT's main campus. Some courses will require an online component and will require students to have computer and Internet access and e-mail capabilities. All courses require additional self-study.
Graduates of this program find work as rehabilitation therapy assistants with physical therapy assistant (PTA) and occupational therapy assistant (OTA) skills. Graduates work in a variety of settings, including rehabilitation centres, mental health facilities, hospitals, schools and private physiotherapy clinics in both urban and rural settings.
Graduates often work outside of Alberta.
- Students with higher secondary or post-secondary marks usually experience greater success in SAIT programs.
- Students who experience success in this program have a strong command of the English language. Students are expected to have basic computer skills prior to admission.
- Previous work or volunteer experience in a health or wellness related field is an asset.
- Therapy assistants need to be self-directed, highly motivated, detail oriented and well-organized.
- Students who experience success in this program are professional and flexible, enjoy working in a team environment and in diverse settings and, above all, enjoy relating to others and assisting others in their wellness.
- Due to the nature of this work, therapy assistants spend the majority of their working hours on their feet and are required to help lift a maximum weight of 50 pounds or 22.68 kg.