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What Does a Rehabilitation Assistant Do?

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  • Written By: Jessica F. Black
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 02 December 2016
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A rehabilitation assistant performs a variety of duties, including assisting therapists, guiding patients, performing therapy techniques on recovering patients, and several administrative tasks. Requirements for this profession vary depending on the location, but a high school diploma is almost always required. Due to the rehabilitation assistant's involvement with patients, many continue their education and get a degree in a medical related field. Aside from physical activities with patients, a rehabilitation assistant is usually involved with healing the whole patient and not just the physical afflictions.

This position is usually a part of a medical team and is supervised by the leading therapist. Some assistants work for a variety of therapists, which may include speech-language pathologists (SLP), physiotherapists (PT), or occupational therapists (OT). The type of therapy prescribed is often decided by the acting therapist and carried out by the rehabilitation assistant. Some of these tasks could include teaching the patient life skills such as eating, bathing, dressing, writing, reading, and math. Therapy is generally based on the severity and type of injury, and some patients will undergo physical, mental, cognitive, and communication rehabilitation.

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Life skills are only a portion of this profession, and an assistant is also responsible for the physical activities of patients. Physical therapy is usually provided in the office, but the assistant will also need to review exercises that should be performed at home with the patient. Safety procedures are highly important because there are certain activities that should be supervised, and home based therapy is generally less strenuous. The assistant may also need to help the patient with meal planning and other home management techniques. Some of these patients may need to relearn how to do a variety of tasks while taking their disability into consideration, and this is one of the main goals of a rehabilitation assistant.

In order to work for a variety of therapists, students usually require a degree because there is not a general set of requirements that can be covered solely by experience. A rehabilitation assistant will need to be extremely familiar with the different aspects of therapy, and there are programs designed to teach and train assistants in several fields. Administrative duties could include scheduling appointments, keeping inventory of supplies, data entry, filing, and similar office tasks. Assistants should be caring, patient, and have excellent communication skills because the profession requires constant communication with patients and medical professionals.

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