Overview

Due to medical advances, many children and adults with disabilities can lead fulfilling lives. People who experience an injury or a health condition that impacts their daily functioning can maximize their physical, mental, and social abilities through rehabilitation.

Under the supervision of an occupational therapist or physiotherapist, therapist assistants work with clients to facilitate their active participation in our society. Therapist assistants also support facility administration by managing therapeutic supplies and maintaining equipment.

Train to be a rehabilitation therapy assistant and gain knowledge in occupational and physical therapy to become a skilled assistant with a curriculum that meets and exceeds the essential competencies required for support personnel for occupational therapist and physiotherapist professions.

This program addresses key concepts of rehabilitation and healthcare delivery. You’ll have the opportunity to go on observational visits to clinical settings to help you integrate your knowledge of normal physical and psychological function with basic therapeutic skills and study advanced rehabilitation concepts, common health conditions, and therapeutic skills used in occupational therapy and physical therapy.

You’ll also develop advanced therapeutic skills and learn about complex health conditions.

You'll experience success in this program and profession by developing the following traits, skills and aptitudes:

  • fine motor skills
  • effective communication skills (speaking, reading, writing, and listening)
  • ability to work independently and with others
  • adaptability
  • ability to work well under stress, maintain professional behaviour and emotionally self-regulate
  • ability to use technology
  • can wear Personal Protective Equipment for extended periods, tolerate latex and disinfection chemicals
  • willing to work extended hours, including nights and/or weekends, and shift work
  • ability to assist in transporting, lifting, and positioning patients and/or equipment and meet the physical demands of the job (for example, spending most hours working on your feet, walking, bending, and other repetitive tasks)
  • ability to use your hand, wrist, and arm for prolonged periods of time
  • comfortable performing patient care procedures which may be sensitive or performed in close proximity
  • ability to tolerate the sight of human blood and tissue

Applicants are strongly encouraged to refer to the ALIS website for career, learning, and employment information for Occupational Therapy Assistants and Physiotherapy Assistants, as well as the governing body’s competency profile for the profession, to ensure that you can successfully demonstrate the skills required to achieve all the competency-based objectives for the program and profession.

The opportunity to advance your education by transferring into this program or gain credit for previous postsecondary courses may be available.

There may also be opportunities to further your education by transferring to another institution once you graduate.

Learn more about program and institution transfer options.

This program includes three practicum rotations during which you’ll apply and further refine your classroom and laboratory learning.

Your practicums will include placement in clinical facilities where, under a licensed physiotherapist or occupational therapist's supervision, you'll apply theoretical knowledge and practical skills in the clinical environment.

The School of Health and Public Safety has many practicum partners in Alberta and Canada. Practicum placements in Calgary are limited, and you may be required to travel or temporarily relocate outside the city.

Successful applicants will be assigned their practicum placement. While we'll strive to assign your practicum location based on your preference, it is not guaranteed. Special considerations will not be given. You will be responsible for fees associated with the practicum, such as entrance requirements, relocation and travel costs.

In compliance with the practica agreements with our clinical partners, you will be requested to provide proof of the following requirements:

  • Current Heart and Stroke Foundation Basic Life Support Level (C) CPR
  • Updated immunization records
  • Police information check
  • N95 respiratory mask fitting
  • Health and wellness status

International students must complete their Immigration Medical Exam (IME) and obtain a co-op work permit to attend this practicum. You can apply for your co-op work permit and initial study permit using your Letter of Acceptance. You can also apply for your co-op work permit once you arrive in Canada at least four months before your co-op term starts. For more information, please get in touch with the International Centre at international@sait.ca.

Learn more about practicum requirements >

Graduates will earn their occupational therapist assistant (OTA) and physical therapist assistant (PTA) discipline designations.

The Rehabilitation Therapy Assistant Program at Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) has been accredited by the Occupational Therapist Assistant and Physiotherapist Assistant Education Accreditation Program (OTA & PTA EAP) in collaboration with Physiotherapy Education Accreditation Canada (PEAC) and the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT). The status of Accreditation was awarded to the program on April 30, 2022 for the period until April 30, 2028.

Occupational Therapist Assistant and Physiotherapist Assistant Education Accreditation Program, Suite 26, 509 Commissioners Road West, London, Ontario, N6J 1Y5, (226) 636-0632, www.otapta.ca.

Upon completing this program, graduates will be awarded a SAIT Rehabilitation Therapy Assistant diploma.

Download program info

Careers and opportunities

Each year, SAIT conducts a survey between February and April to determine the employment rate, salary and satisfaction of our newest SAIT alumni. 

people icon 92% graduate employment rate

salary icon $41,600 average starting salary

Find out more about our graduate employment statistics >

Our graduates may work in the following occupations. Some careers require additional experience and education.

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Career counselling and support

Unsure which career path is for you? SAIT offers career planning services to help you decide your future.

You can also get started by taking our online career finder quiz, which can help you narrow down your search based on your current skills and interests.

Finally, you can also head to Alberta alis for various tools and resources, including additional quizzes and labour market information to help you narrow down a career path.

Services and workshops

Courses

The Rehabilitation Therapy Assistant diploma requires 60 credits (22 courses) to complete.

The program spans two years, with three semesters in year one, and two semesters in year two.

View classes by semester

Course Credits

Anatomy and Physiology provides learners with an overview of the anatomy and basic physiology of the human body. Areas that will be covered include the organization of the body; covering, support, and movement of the body; regulation and integration of body functions; maintenance of the body; and continuity of the human race. Diseases and aging processes will also be briefly discussed.

3

Effective interpersonal communication skills are essential in the healthcare field in order to establish effective relationships with clients, families and other health-care professionals. In this course, developing an awareness of personal communication style and skills is coupled with respect for others and an awareness of cultural diversity in learning how to maintain professional boundaries. The development of active listening, interviewing, verbal and non-verbal communication skills and conflict management skills is achieved through role-playing in simulated clinical situations.

Pre-requisites:
  • ORNT 208
  • PSYC 210
  • RHAB 232
  • RHAB 242
  • RHAB 244
3

Orientation to Rehabilitation examines the conceptual framework that supports the practice of rehabilitation and the specific roles of the rehabilitation therapist assistant within this framework. Areas explored include disability, ethical and professional behavior, teamwork and therapeutic relationships. Medical terminology and clinical documentation practice are introduced as foundational skills and are built upon throughout the program. These conceptual and practical foundations are reinforced by a series of observational visits to selected clinical settings as well as the development of a fieldwork portfolio that will serve as a basis for successful clinical fieldwork and professional employment upon graduation.

Equivalents:
  • ORNT 206
3

Practicum 1 involves a practicum placement in a clinical facility as well as a short classroom component. Reflective learning tasks are used to reinforce concepts during and after the placement through online discussion board participation. Under the supervision of a licensed physiotherapist or occupational therapist, the learner will apply both theoretical knowledge and practical skills in the clinical environment.

Pre-requisites:
  • RHAB 203
  • RHAB 240
  • RHAB 242
  • RHAB 244
3

Practicum 2 provides the learner with an opportunity to integrate both theoretical knowledge and practical skills in a clinical setting. Demonstration of entry-level occupational therapist assistant and physiotherapist assistant skills will be required.

Pre-requisites:
  • PRCT 200
Corequsites:
  • PROF 260
  • RHAB 270
6

In Introduction to Healthcare Delivery, the role of the healthcare worker in Canada’s changing healthcare system is examined in light of a number of broad trends including the impact of an aging population, ongoing pressures to privatize Medicare services, increased consumer involvement in healthcare issues and the increased emphasis on home care. Special attention is paid to the delivery of healthcare services in Alberta as learners grapple with the ethical and moral issues surrounding the cost of healthcare, issues of patient rights and the impact on current rehabilitation practices. Effective research and computer skills will be applied to examining these trends in healthcare.

1.5

In this course, reflective learning tasks are used to reinforce concepts during and after practicum rotations. Desired skills and behaviours will be identified to assist learners in developing lifelong learning goals and applying ethical practice in their role as occupational therapist assistants and/or physiotherapist assistants. Preparation for seeking employment will also be covered.

Corequsites:
  • PRCT 234
  • RHAB 270
3

In Lifespan Development, all stages of normal human development from conception to death are studied from a developmental psychological perspective with a focus on human behaviour and cognitive, social and personality development. Identifying the prenatal, family and environmental influences on developmental psychology and the use of developmental psychological concepts and theories in the application of rehabilitation are also addressed. Personal experiences and observations by the learners are incorporated to help identify the different concepts and stages in developmental psychology.

3

This course provides learners with opportunities to further develop and practice safe client-centered care. Skills-based elements such as wheelchair fitting and maintenance, sewing adaptation, gait analysis, ambulation with gait aids, and client instruction will be covered.

Pre-requisites:
  • ANPH 209
  • ORNT 208
  • PROF 210
  • RHAB 230
  • RHAB 232
Corequsites:
  • RHAB 242
  • RHAB 246
1.5

Building on previous learning, this course focuses on a variety of health conditions commonly treated by rehabilitation interventions. These range from neurological, cardiovascular, and respiratory conditions, to health conditions involving multiple body systems. The spectrum of intervention types are related to the functional impairments associated with the health conditions.

Pre-requisites:
  • RHAB 246
1.5

Identifying and describing the medical terminology, structure and function of the key body systems involved in human movement is essential in the practice of rehabilitation therapy. Anatomy of Movement is an introductory course on functional movement with emphasis placed on describing and analyzing the functionality of the skeletal, muscular and peripheral nervous systems including gross movements and surface anatomy. Learners develop observational and client handling skills through hands-on experience by palpating and moving the structures of the body to gain an appreciation of the three-dimensional nature of the body and its movement potential.

3

In Fundamentals of Client Care, safe client-handling techniques and effective verbal and non-verbal communication skills are developed through the integration of theory and practice emphasizing the principles of client-centred care. In the laboratory, safe practices and infection control measures are applied to all activities including the safe lifting, transferring and positioning of clients, using wheelchairs and conducting range of motion exercises. Biomechanical principles in rehabilitation and client monitoring practices are also examined in order to promote safe client contact in the workplace.

Equivalents:
  • RHAB 207
3

In this course, the many uses and applications of therapeutic modalities in rehabilitation and client-centered care are practiced in a lab setting as learners focus on the healing process, the physical agents affecting or impeding healing, and the client’s response to treatment. Learners will draw on their knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and pathology while studying the rationale for selecting and using different modalities ranging from hydrotherapy, ambulatory aids, electrical stimulation, mechanical traction, ultrasound, and the use of hot and cold packs.

Pre-requisites:
  • ANPH 209
  • RHAB 203
  • RHAB 230
  • RHAB 232
  • RHAB 242
  • RHAB 244
3

This course explores core concepts and principles that provide the occupational therapy assistant (OTA) with a solid foundation in the history, theory, and basic clinical skills required for providing client-centred care. The relationship between a client’s cognitive, visual, sensory or perceptual impairment is examined in relation to three important occupational performance areas: self care, leisure and productivity/work. Activity analysis, grading, environmental assessment techniques and teaching and learning styles are emphasized in developing and implementing occupational therapy interventions to help clients live independently.

Pre-requisites:
  • ORNT 208
  • RHAB 230
  • RHAB 232
Corequsites:
  • RHAB 203
3

Therapeutic exercise is the most common intervention used in rehabilitation practice. In this course, anatomical knowledge and exercise theories are integrated to provide the rationale for various exercise techniques. Through the use of scenarios, learners will develop the skills necessary to apply and modify exercise techniques safely to meet the needs of clients in response to changes in physical status, or based on direction by the supervising therapist.

Pre-requisites:
  • ANPH 209
  • RHAB 230
  • RHAB 232
3

In this course, the benefits of rehabilitation intervention are examined by focusing on a variety of health conditions commonly treated by rehabilitation ranging from soft tissue injuries, bone and joint problems, and strokes, to pain syndromes. Using case studies, learners research these health conditions and identify how impairment in body function and structure can limit and restrict a client’s ability to perform simple tasks or participate in everyday activities. The emphasis is on understanding medical, surgical and rehabilitation management of these conditions and applying that knowledge to optimize client outcomes with the parameters of the role of the occupational therapy assistant and the physical therapy assistant.

Pre-requisites:
  • ANPH 209
  • PROF 210
  • RHAB 232
Corequsites:
  • RHAB 203
3

In Practice Skills - Mental Health Concepts, the core principles, concepts, and processes of occupational therapy are applied to clients with mental health issues. The occupational therapist assistant (OTA) applies knowledge of psychiatric diagnoses and treatment models to interventions, to promote occupational performance and improve independence while providing client-centred care.

Pre-requisites:
  • COMM 263
  • RHAB 242
3

In Occupational Therapy Assistant Advanced Practice Skills the core concepts, principles and processes of occupational therapy are applied to clients with cognitive, neuromuscular and musculoskeletal conditions. Splinting, use of adaptations, activity analysis and meaningful activities for restoring occupational performance in one-on-one and group settings will be practiced.

Pre-requisites:
  • RHAB 242
  • RHAB 246
3

Concepts and practice skills of therapeutic exercise and physical modalities from previous courses in the Rehabilitation Therapy Assistant program are applied to both simple and complex health conditions. Focus will be placed on applying interventions as part of a comprehensive client-centred treatment plan in a simulated clinic setting.

Pre-requisites:
  • RHAB 240
  • RHAB 244
  • RHAB 246
3

This course provide an overview of common speech, language, and swallowing disorders throughout the lifespan. Emphasis will be placed on basic interventions and practical strategies that promote effective communication and function with individuals who have these disorders.

Pre-requisites:
  • RHAB 246
1.5

Practicum Consolidation provides learners with the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to integrate the theory and practical skills covered during the Rehabilitation Therapy Assistant program through the completion of a standardized clinical examination and case study presentation.

Corequsites:
  • PRCT 234
  • PROF 260
1.5

This course uses a case study approach to focus on a variety of health conditions commonly treated by rehabilitation interventions, ranging through neurological, pediatric and oncology conditions involving multiple body systems. The spectrum of intervention types is related to the functional impairments associated with the health conditions.

Pre-requisites:
  • RHAB 208
1.5

Progression

Students must attain a PGPA and/or a CGPA of 2.0 or better in each semester and pass the necessary prerequisite courses to progress through the program. To qualify for graduation, students must pass all courses, attain a CGPA of 2.0 or better and complete course requirements within the prescribed timelines.

Review our grading and progression procedure >

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Explore your options!

Some courses in this program are available through Open Studies. You can complete courses via Open Studies to get a head start on your education, reduce your course load once accepted into a credentialed program, or determine which career path best suits you before you fully commit. 

You may also take courses for general interest or personal and professional development.

Available Open Studies courses

Admission requirements

Applicants educated in Canada

Applicants must demonstrate English language proficiency and meet the following requirements or equivalents with an overall average of at least 60%:

  • English Language Arts 30-1, AND,
  • Biology 30, AND,
  • Chemistry 20 or Science 20.

SAIT accepts high school course equivalents for admission for applicants educated outside Alberta.

All applicants who were educated outside of Canada must demonstrate English Language proficiency and provide proof they meet the program admission requirements with an international document assessment. Find out what educational documents are accepted and assessment options.

SAIT may also accept courses completed at certain international post-secondary institutions.

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Academic Upgrading

Missing an admission requirement for this program? Upgrade your prior education to help you receive admission into one of SAIT's career programs.

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English language proficiency

All applicants must demonstrate English language proficiency prior to admission, including students educated in Canada.

Learn more

Available intakes

Fall 2024

Start dates:

Domestic students: Waitlisted
  • Application deadline: June 28, 2024
International students: Closed
  • Application deadline: May 29, 2024

Costs

2023/24 tuition and fees

The following costs are effective as of July 1, 2023. They are an estimate of tuition and fees based on the recommended course load per year.

Domestic students

Year Number of semesters Tuition fees Additional fees Total per year
1 3 $4,176 $2,030 $6,206
2 2 $2,784 $1,570 $4,354
Total cost:
$10,560

Year Number of semesters Tuition fees Additional fees Total per year
1 3 $19,440 $2,030 $21,470
2 2 $12,960 $1,570 $14,530
Total cost:
$36,000

Books and supplies are approximately $2,500 per full-time year.

This is a bring-your-own-device program with a standard computer hardware and software requirement. See the specific requirements on our computers and laptops page.

Find your booklist on the SAIT Bookstore's website. The booklist will be available closer to the program start date. Can’t find your program or course? The bookstore didn't receive a textbook list. Contact your program directly to determine if they’re still refining course details or if you're in luck; no textbook purchase is required this term.

Students are responsible for any additional expenses related to their practicum, including pre-practicum requirements outlined by the program and relocation costs to practicum sites outside of Calgary.

Tech requirements

You will be evaluated on your competency performance level during practicum, logged using a tracking system called CompTracker.

You will require a wifi-enabled device (Apple or Android) to support the CompTracker system. A tablet is preferred, but a laptop is acceptable. Keyboards are advisable but not mandatory. Smartphones are not acceptable devices for CompTracker.

A required $75 user license fee is billed per semester. 

Required personal protective equipment (PPE)

The industry-approved PPE you'll need will be discussed during your first few days of classes. 

Additional fees

  • There is a fee associated with obtaining a police information check, including a Vulnerable Sector Check, and it is payable to the Police or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP.)
  • You must have your immunizations reviewed by the SAIT Health Clinic. There is a $75 charge to review vaccine history. Any vaccines to be administered will result in additional charges.
  • A fee of approximately $50-$100 is associated with an Electronic Student Permit Checking submission required for clinical practicum placements, payable to Synergy Gateway through the Verified software platform.
  • CPR certification must be completed yearly. Costs associated with CPR training are the responsibility of the student.

 

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Financial aid

Paying for your education may feel overwhelming, but we have resources and programs that can help, including information about payment options, student loans, grants and scholarships.

Learn more

Application process

Ready to apply?

Follow our step-by-step guide to submitting a successful application.

Learn how to apply

Communication during admission

Email is the primary source of communication during the admission process. Ensure your personal email account is managed appropriately to receive our emails, files and communications. 

We recommend you add hps.info@sait.ca domain to your safe senders' list or you risk missing critical email messages. 

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Begin your application

Apply now using the online application portal. 

Ensure you have a valid Visa or Mastercard to pay the non-refundable application fee of $120 for domestic applicants or $150 for international applicants. 

Apply now

Information sessions

Prepare for a strong start in your chosen program or get the details you need to decide your future path.

Our expert staff and faculty are ready to answer your questions and provide information about the following:

  • What sets SAIT apart
  • An introduction to the program and area of study
  • Admission requirements
  • Future career paths
  • Information on the earning potential and graduate employment rates.

Contact us

School of Health and Public Safety Advising

Phone
403.284.8500
Email
hps.info@sait.ca

International Student Advising

Phone
403.284.8852
Email
international@sait.ca