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Rehabilitation Assistant Diploma

  • Online applications are available for Fall 2017 intake. Attending a program information meeting is mandatory for this program, see Admission Process

    The title "Rehabilitation Assistant" (RA) combines "Physiotherapy Assistant", "Occupational Therapy Assistant" and "Speech Language Assistant". Rehabilitation Assistants are para-professionals who work as a members of health care teams under the supervision of and in collaboration with occupational therapists (OTs), physiotherapists (PTs) and speech-language pathologists (SLPs) and audiologists. Capilano University offers the only program nationally to triple-train graduates as occupational therapy assistants (OTA), physiotherapy assistants (PTA) and speech language/audiology assistants (SLPA). The RA works with clients in a variety of settings providing hands-on rehabilitation (examples: exercise, range of motion, splinting, activities of daily living, adjusting hearing aid, performing hearing screening). A vast array of responsibilities awaits qualified and trained RAs in today's health care system.

    What Does a Rehabilitation Assistant Do?

    Therapists design and review treatment plans to be carried out by the Rehabilitation Assistants. RAs provide training which enables clients to develop, maintain or restore physical, psychosocial, cognitive and/or communication skills according to the plan. Training activities, delivered individually or in groups, may include ambulation; exercises at home or the gym; activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing and eating; speaking, reading or writing practice; home management such as meal planning and preparation; vocational support such as a graduated return to work program; or leisure activities.

    RAs may be involved with administrative and program support. This includes working with the client and the environment such as scheduling and greeting patients; managing and maintaining rehabilitation supplies and equipment inventory; providing office and technological support; providing assistance in fabricating, assembling and maintaining positioning and mobility equipment e.g. cushions and wheelchairs as well as special assistive equipment.

    A few examples of what an RA may do once certified includes:

    • leading group exercise in classes (in pool, on land)
    • teaching transfers to clients and family members
    • developing communication boards
    • applying electro-muscle stimulators
    • assisting therapists with swallowing assessments

    Why Study to be a Rehabilitation Assistant at Capilano University?

    • This is the only program in Canada that triple trains; combining training for Physiotherapy assistant, Occupational Therapy assistant and Speech Language Pathology and Audiology assistant.
    • Our 63 credit Diploma program is completed over 4 terms that spans 1.5 years.
    • Hands-on practical application combined with theory in small class structure allows for optimal student/instructor interaction. Faculty are experts currently working in their respective professional field.
    • Trained to National Standards, graduates can work across Canada.
    • Practicum placements are offered throughout BC. Opportunities also exist across Canada and internationally.
    • Laddering opportunities are available for further educational options which can lead to a degree.
    • Capilano hosts an annual job fair which provides students and graduates with a broad range of employment options to choose from.
    • There are 4 terms of study in the full-time Diploma program that are completed in 1.5 years:
      • musculoskeletal
      • psycho/cognitive, mental health and cardiorespiratory
      • neurology
      • community integration
    • There are 3 practicum placements completed during the program. Practicums are supervised by therapists and Capilano faculty. 

    Who Should Apply?

    Successful Rehabilitation Assistants are people who have a positive attitude, care about people and who are motivated to enable people to help themselves. Those who have a strong interest in rehabilitation and who see themselves as "team players" will do well in this program. Flexibility in working in a demanding health care environment and ability to communicate well with managers, peers and people of all ages, backgrounds, attitudes and beliefs are definite assets for any candidate entering the field of health care.

    Career Opportunities

    The majority of Capilano's graduates are employed in acute care and rehab hospitals. Opportunities also exist in extended care, private practice and community health. Regardless of whether you are interested in working with newborns in the infant hearing/screening, or with children/youth in paediatrics, or with adult or geriatric clients; employment opportunities are readily available in all demographics.

    Work may also be available on a casual, part-time basis depending on your areas of interest.


    The Rehabilitation Assistant Diploma program at Capilano University 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 granted to the program in 2013 for the period until 2019.

    Occupational Therapist Assistant and Physiotherapist Assistant Education Accreditation Program, c/o Physiotherapy Education Accreditation Canada, Suite 26, 509 Commissioners Road West, London, Ontario, N6J 1Y5, (250) 494-0677, www.otapta.ca