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Rehabilitation Therapy Assistant

Program Duration: 64 weeks

Rehabilitation Therapy Assistants (RTAs) work with physiotherapists and occupational therapists to aid in the recovery of patients. CDI College's Rehabilitation Therapy Assistant (Occupational Therapist Assistant - Physiotherapist Assistant) program is for students with an interest in human development, including injury, functional movement, human disorders, and more.

Upon graduation, you will have the skills, knowledge, values, and behaviours necessary to work in a variety of healthcare and community settings, including clinics, hospitals, and rehabilitation centres.

You will learn bio-chemistry, body mechanics and systems, anatomy and physiology, therapeutic exercise, and the use of advanced technological equipment.

Your knowledge will be put to use in clinical placements in the community, in whichever specialty field you choose.

Admission Requirements

Students must meet all of the pre-requisites listed below, meet their financial obligations with the college, and acknowledge their understanding of the college’s policies and procedures provided in the student handbook, prior to starting classes.

  • High school graduation or equivalent
  • Pass college's admissions test
  • Criminal record check (in accordance with the Criminal Records Review Act)
  • Immunization report (form provided by the College)


Additional Requirements

  • CPR Level ‘C’ training is a requirement of this program and will be provided by the college

Program Courses

SSSE - Student Success Strategies

This course will introduce students to skills and concepts that will help them achieve personal, academic, and career success: Personality styles, goal setting, time management, stress management, study skills, and communication skills/conflict management.

IRHE - Introduction to Rehabilitation
This course introduces students to the field of rehabilitation. It addresses the diversity of the roles and relationships of health professionals within the field of rehabilitation and within the health care system. Students will address issues including professionalism, the roles and responsibilities of the physiotherapist assistant and occupational therapist assistant, models of health care, and professional ethics. The course will discuss the Canadian health care system, professional conduct, professional boundaries as well as the importance of confidentiality between the client and the practitioners. Extensive hands-on exercises throughout the course will allow you to practice and reinforce the skills you acquire, while progress check questions at the end of every module will give you the opportunity to test your knowledge of the presented material.
PSBE - Pre-Science Basics
This course provides an introduction to the basic principles of chemistry, equations, medical terminology, and human physiology in order to prepare students for the more advanced course of study in this diploma program. Study skills for learning the sciences are also discussed in order to facilitate the student’s learning process. Topics include: major components of the cell, basic concepts of chemistry, matter, mass, weight, volume and density, chemical bonds, calculations and equations, and introduction to the study of the human body.
PSKE - Professional Skills
This course is designed to equip students with inter-personal skills identified by employers as essential for success in the professional world. Using a variety of instructional methods including case studies, group exercises and discussion, students learn and practice key communication skills.
ANPE - Anatomy and Physiology
This component of the program is designed to introduce students to the structures and functions of the human body. Emphasis is placed on the musculoskeletal and neurological systems as well as on surface anatomy. This course will provide the foundation for the study of human disorders, the bio-mechanics of human motion, and therapeutic interventions for disabling conditions.
HUDE - Human Development
This course traces human development from conception to death. Topics include the interaction of heredity and environment, age group characteristics, physiological and psychological problems that appear throughout the lifespan. A focus is placed on the appreciation of how human development relates to the disciplines of physiotherapy and occupational therapy.
FMVE - Functional Movement
Students are provided with an understanding of normal human motion. The course addresses topics that include joint mobility, muscle tone, range of motion, normal gait and normal posture. Students are also introduced to skills including palpation and observations skills, limb and patient handling. This provides an emphasis on both theoretical and practical skills. Topics include: goniometry, arthro-kinematics, osteo-kinematics, types of range of motion, basic techniques for limb and patient handling, manual muscle testing techniques, Normal human gait, common gait dysfunctions, measurement and instruction of assistive devices, normal posture, body mechanics for the health care provider, movement changes that occur during the aging process, professional conduct and documentation techniques.
HDOE - Human Disorders
Human Disorders introduces students to a variety of disabling conditions, based on broad diagnostic categories. This course addresses both physical and psycho-social conditions specific to the pediatric, adult and geriatric population. They are addressed within the framework of impairment, disability and handicap. The course provides a brief review of the body systems and disorders related to each of these systems. Topics include: World Health Organization’s definition of ‘health’, ‘Impairment’, ‘disability’, and ‘handicap’, introduction to pathophysiology, infection, inflammation and tissue healing, neoplasms, fluid and electrolyte imbalances, understanding pain, influence of stress on health, cardiovascular system disorders, respiratory disorders, the neurological system and disorders of the central and peripheral nervous systems, spinal cord injuries, musculoskeletal disorders, and digestive and urinary systems disorders.
MB-CRTOC - Clinical Rehabilitation Techniques I – Orthopaedic Conditions
The goal of this course is to develop the student's knowledge and skill in the application of both physiotherapy and occupational therapy processes to therapeutic activities and interventions related to orthopedic conditions. An emphasis will be placed on practical skills, as well as the indications, contraindications and precautions for a variety of physiotherapy and occupational therapy interventions. Students will learn the physiotherapy and occupational therapy interventions related to the therapeutic activities for various orthopedic conditions. Topical coverage includes: supervision of patients in a clinical setting, passive ROM exercises, active-assisted ROM, resistance exercises, types of resistance, stretching techniques, understanding and correction of postural dysfunctions, repetitive strain injuries, common paediatric disorders, ambulation and transfer techniques, and common back and neck injuries.
CM1E - Communications 1 - Client Care
This course is designed to increase the students understanding and implementation of effective interpersonal communication behaviors and skills, with particular emphasis on the therapeutic relationship and the professional relationship with clients and colleagues. Throughout the course we will examine basic verbal and nonverbal elements affecting communication between individuals in family, peer group, and most importantly, in work contexts. The course will include a review of interpersonal communication theory (from Success Strategies), including personality style theory and how it impacts personal and professional relationships, conversation management on the health care team (including the job interview), effective listening with patients, therapeutic and interpersonal relationships, conflict management and maintaining professional boundaries. Culture and its relationship to communication and how they affect each other is a major topic covered in this course. Students will explore the effect of culture on health care interventions and the impact of cultural differences in communication style. The course will present trans-cultural communications including it's nature and principles and ways to improve it. Finally, students will study ethics in communicating with patients, interviewing new patients, and public speaking in the health care environment.
MB-CRTTE - Clinical Rehabilitation Techniques II – Therapeutic Exercise
The Clinical Rehabilitation Techniques II course provides the Rehabilitation Assistant student with the opportunity to further develop previously learned concepts within the realm of more complex clinical disorders. The course will incorporate therapeutic techniques performed by the Rehabilitation Therapy Assistant, under the direction and supervision of the registered physiotherapist or occupational therapist as applicable, in treating clients with amputations, orthopedic conditions and cardio-respiratory conditions. There is an emphasis on critical thinking skills necessary to reinforce a treatment plan and supervise a client.
MB-CM2CR - Communications II – Client Record Management
This course is designed to introduce the Physiotherapist/Occupational Therapist Assistant to Client Record Management in the different practice settings. The ability to provide clear, concise, and accurate documentation is integral to the role of the assistant. Assistants will be required to document the treatment provided under the direction of the registered practitioner, within professional, legal and regulatory guidelines and requirements. This course will provide the student with an overview of commonly used methods of documentation, legal and regulatory guidelines for patient charts and clinical records, confidentiality, and the role of the assistant in the management of both paper based and electronic client records.
GERE - Introduction to Gerontology
The purpose of this course is to provide the student with a bio-psycho social perspective on aging. Individual and group treatments focusing on medications, mobility, fall prevention, vision impairments and communications impairments. The course will focus on working with elders who have: conditions and diseases of the aged and aging, dysphasia, cerebrovascular accidents, osteoporosis, Parkinson’s disease, orthopaedic conditions, cardiovascular conditions, pulmonary conditions, oncological conditions, cognitive impairment/dementia and related conditions.
MB-CRTNC - Clinical Rehabilitation Techniques III – Neurological Conditions
The goal of this course is to develop the student's knowledge and skill in therapeutic activities in rehabilitation therapy. Topics include an exploration of the various common neurological conditions and the rehabilitation therapy techniques and occupational therapy interventions for neurological conditions. An emphasis will be placed on practical skills, as well as the indications, contraindications and precautions for a variety of interventions. Topics include: genetic disorders (neurological), Parkinson’s disease, cerebrovascular accident, acquired brain injury, cerebral palsy, and multiple sclerosis.
MB-PHAPO - Physical Agents in Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy
This course covers the theory and application of therapeutic modalities used in physiotherapy and occupational therapy. Emphasis is placed on indications, contraindications and safety considerations in the application of a variety of modalities. Students will learn the practical skills required to safely and effectively apply these modalities. Subjects include: review of pain and inflammation and the role of modalities in their treatment, guidelines for use of electrotherapy modalities in physiotherapy and occupational therapy applications, therapeutic effects of thermal agents in physiotherapy and occupational therapy, practical applications of heat and cold, therapeutic ultrasound – theory and practical application in physiotherapy and occupational therapy, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation – theory and practical application in physiotherapy and occupational therapy, neuromuscular electrical stimulation - theory and practical application in physiotherapy and occupational therapy, use of interferential current therapy – theory and practical application in physiotherapy and occupational therapy, care and testing of electrotherapy leads and equipment, treatment of edema using an intermittent compression pump, hydrotherapy – principles and application techniques in physiotherapy and occupational therapy, overview of cervical and lumbar traction in physiotherapy and occupational therapy applications, and introduction to the theory of therapeutic light.
MB-RHBPR - Rehabilitation Processes
Students are provided with the knowledge and practical skills required for basic patient care management. This course provides an overview of patient positioning and draping, wheelchairs, lifts and transfers. The knowledge acquired from the previous Anatomy and Physiology, Human Development, and Human Disorders courses are applied to assist in the determination of the purpose, benefit, functional sequence and safety precautions of movement and positioning procedures. Students are also provided with insight into accessibility issues. Rehabilitation Assistants are frequently required to be self reliant to repair tools and equipment and implement basic modifications and adjustments to equipment and devices. This course will explore a variety of common tool, equipment, and device repairs that rehabilitation assistants will be required to perform.
MB-CCSEI - Clinical Case Studies and Interprofessional Collaboration
The purpose of this course is to provide the student with the opportunity to integrate and consolidate the theory and practice of managing complex patient situations. The student will use critical thinking skills to appropriately implement components of a treatment plan as prescribed by and under the supervision of a physiotherapist. An understanding of the roles of other health care professionals in a patient’s care and their interaction with these services will be explored. The course will focus on the more complex patients who require physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and other disciplines of the health care team. This course will be a combination of small group tutorials and problem -solving sessions along with a self-directed study component. The students will have the opportunity to practice their problem-solving skills in complex patient situations.
MB-TTPHD - Therapeutic Techniques – Physical Disabilities
This course introduces students to the philosophy and principles of the practice of occupational therapy and provides the opportunity to learn about the scope of service of the OT and OTA. A variety of physical disabilities will be explored and students will be familiarized with intervention strategies and therapeutic activities in both the occupational therapy and physical therapy areas. Topics include: history of OT and OTA, domain of practice, model of human occupation, Canadian model of occupational performance, neurodevelopmental treatment approach, sensory integration, energy conservation, assistive devices for activities of daily living, activities of daily living, instrumental activities of daily living, activity analysis, splinting techniques, orthotics, wheelchairs and seating considerations, physical dysfunctions, chronic degenerative conditions, comorbidity / comorbid pathologies, and physical therapy interventions.
MB-TTMNH - Therapeutic Techniques – Mental Health
The objective of this course is to introduce students to the field of occupational therapy in mental health, familiarizing them with the theory and therapeutic techniques applied by the occupational therapist working in mental health. During this course, students will also examine the integration of physical therapy interventions as a means to augment therapeutic services. Other topics include: history of occupational therapy in mental health, mental illness defined, models of mental health, practice models in mental health – cognitive disabilities, role acquisition, social skills training, mental health rehabilitation, development of adaptive skills, sensory integration, major mental health diagnoses, including DSM-V criteria, pathophysiology, etiology, signs and symptoms, impact on function, symptoms and behaviours, occupational therapy process, life skills, support groups, group dynamics, and leadership, group creation and facilitation, and physical therapy needs.
MB-TTPED - Therapeutic Techniques – Paediatrics
This course will provide students with detailed knowledge and practical skills regarding physical and psycho-social issues specific to the pediatric population. Various systems that provide physical and occupational therapy interventions for children will be reviewed. Students will learn about various pediatric conditions and disorders, and will be able to identify changes in normal development and various theoretical foundations of the occupational therapy process. Students will learn to apply the appropriate rehabilitation therapy intervention skills and techniques to address the therapeutic needs of the pediatric patient through a global approach combining both physical therapy and occupational therapy.
MB-WPSS - Workplace Preparation and Supplemental Skills
This course is designed to provide the student with workplace preparation and supplemental skills and certifications. The course is designed as a grouping of five individual workshops and topics aimed at providing the student with supplemental skills and certifications that will prepare the student for employment in a health care work environment. The course will include training provided by external trainers in CPR, First Aid, Mental Health First Aid and Non Violent Crisis Intervention. Students will also explore the necessary articles of the Manitoba Personal Health Information Act as it applies to the Rehabilitation therapy field. Finally, students will participate in a workplace orientation session provided by the clinical placement host in preparation of the student’s practicum placement.
PTA385 - Clinical Placement

This mandatory 385-hour clinical placement provides students with an opportunity to develop and practice basic competency level skills in observation and treatment techniques under the supervision of either a physiotherapist or an occupational therapist.  Based on the student’s area of interest, the clinical placement can be completed in any of these specialty settings.  The practicum is also an opportunity for learning new skills specific to the chosen setting.

CESE - Career and Employment Strategies

This course builds on the skills learned in the Student Success Strategies course or its equivalent.  It provides information on how to use the communication skills learned in order to make a successful presentation to a prospective employer.  Students also learn how to uncover the hidden job market and identify employment opportunities.  Self-assessment during this course allows students to identify their personal skills that are transferable to the work place and to describe these skills to a prospective employer.  Students may be videotaped during a mock interview and will participate in the analysis of their performance in the “interview”.

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