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Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides

History

Since about the 14th century, physicians have recognized the therapeutic value of providing activities and occupations for their patients. Observations that mental patients tended to recover more quickly from their illnesses if provided with tasks and duties led physicians to involve their patients in such activities as agriculture, weaving, working with animals, and sewing. Over time, this practice became quite common, and the conditions of many patients were improved.

Occupational therapy, as we know it today, had its beginning after World War I. The need to help disabled veterans of that war, and years later the veterans of World War II, stimulated the growth of this field. Even though its inception was in the psychiatric field, occupational therapy has developed an equally important role in other medical fields, including rehabilitation of physically disabled patients.

As more health care providers began to incorporate occupational therapy into their treatment philosophy, demand arose for workers who could assist occupational therapists with rehabilitation and office support services. Thus, the careers of occupational therapy assistant and occupational therapy aide were born. These health care professionals, who work under the direct supervision of occupational therapists, play an integral role in the care of people with mental, physical, developmental, or emotional limitations.

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