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A rehabilitation aide assists other medical professionals with patient care. Aides work under therapists to provide care and treatment and help maintain a safe, productive rehabilitation environment. Specific rehabilitation aide job duties depends on the kind of therapy, i.e., physical, occupational, or recreational therapy. Aide positions exist in hospitals, nursing homes, and outpatient facilities.
Physical therapy rehabilitation aides help physiotherapists conduct sessions with patients. Job duties usually revolve around helping patients increase mobility or lessening the effects of a disability. In this setting, an aide might assist a patient learning to walk or help move limbs as part of regular exercises. A rehabilitation aide also handles certain treatments, such as ultrasound or electric stimulation, under the therapist’s direction. Additionally, the aide may assist by keeping records of each patient's progress and the outcome of each session.
Rehabilitation aides for occupational therapy assist people with physical, mental, and developmental disabilities to improve their quality of life. This encompasses a wide range of activities from helping a patient with a new prosthesis learn how to drive to preparing an autistic person to enter the workforce. Aides work alongside occupational therapists to ensure patients get the most benefit from every session. Some of the duties are physical in nature; others require more emotional support, such as providing encouragement. There also are administrative responsibilities, including charting progress or scheduling further therapy sessions.
A recreational therapy rehabilitation aide helps the physically and mentally disabled enjoy leisure activities. The aide assists the recreational therapist in planning and executing social activities, such as a trip to the mall or to a restaurant. The aide also may organize games, dances, art projects, or similar activities. In these positions, the rehabilitation aide both supports the work of the therapist and acts as a supervisor of the recreational therapy patients. Recreational therapy aide positions more often are available in long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes, where such activities are part of daily life.
Rehabilitation aides must be physically fit and able to lift or move patients or clients who have limited mobility. Aides should be prepared to spend most of the work day standing, lifting, stooping, or performing other physical labor. An aide also must be accommodating and compassionate as well as a good team player who communicates easily with both patients and other medical staff. These demanding positions tend to lower paying, however, and rehabilitation aides usually earn some of the lowest salaries in the healthcare field. While some aide positions only require a high school diploma, employers may seek aides with college degrees, especially in health or rehabilitation sciences.