Occupational TherapistOccupational therapists provide rehabilitative services to help people function normally at home and at work. Their clients include people struggling with physical and emotional disabilities. Occupational therapists utilize various treatments to assist their clients increase motor and reasoning skills, as well as show clients with permanent disabilities how to live with the disabilities. The purpose of treatment is to assist their clients live independent and gratifying lives.
Occupational therapists assist the people they work with develop or improve the ability to perform basic tasks such as eating, using home appliances, and other daily activities. Therapists set up exercise programs for their clients to improve their physical well being and other rehabilitative exercises to improve mental acuity. To illustrate, if a client is struggling with memory problems, particularly short term, a therapist could recommend that the client create lists to improve it. More occupational therapists are now utilizing computer software to help people improve critical and abstract thinking skills, improve memory, and help their clients improve their ability to solve problems.
Individuals with spinal cord injuries, muscular dystrophy, or other permanent injuries, sometimes need to be taught how to perform routine tasks. To help people with debilitating injuries or illnesses, therapists show them how to use equipment and technology, which includes machines that improve communication, meant to assist permanently disabled individuals. Many therapists are involved with the design or production of technology designed to assist those with permanent disabilities which includes computer technology.
Certain occupational therapists work with people with disabilities that impair their ability to effectively perform job tasks. To help them, occupational therapists may coordinate programs to help them find jobs, examine work areas, determine appropriate work duties, and evaluate clients to determine their progress. Some therapists meet with their clients' management to coordinate accommodations or changes, so their clients can be effective at work.
An important aspect of an occupational therapists job is to accurately determine and document their clients' progress. Records are vital to determine fees and provide doctors and other health care professionals with important information.
Some occupational therapists specialize in specific disabilities or ages. Therapists working for school districts assess children with disabilities and provide counseling services or refer children to other counseling professionals. These therapists can work with children on a one on one basis or in groups or meet with teachers to discuss strategies for assisting disabled students. Some therapists can be assigned to work on an administrative board. Certain therapists specialize in helping infants at risk of developing development problems. They can use therapy intended to improve listening, social, and motor skills.
Some occupational therapists specialize in assisting the elderly. Their goal is to help elderly people live independent, productive lives. For example, certain therapists administer tests and rely on their special training to determine whether elderly individuals are capable of driving automobiles. After administering their tests, therapists can assign adaptive technology to improve driving safety or arrange other forms of transportation. Therapists working with the elderly also inspect their clients' personal residences to check for safety hazards.
Occupational therapists working at mental health facilities work with patients struggling with mental or emotional problems. Therapists utilize treatments and strategies to help their clients manage everyday situations. Therapists can mentor their clients to improve budgeting, planning, and other skills utilized in daily living. Occupational therapists frequently assist people struggling with drug and alcohol abuse, addictive behaviors, depression, and anxiety problems.
Work environment. At larger clinics, therapists can be assigned to work in large rooms with noisy machines. Working as a therapist can be exhausting since they stand for long periods of time, and therapists providing rehabilitative services to people at their homes must frequently travel. Occupational therapists also must take precautions when lifting people and other objects to avoid back problems.
Occupational therapists employed at hospitals and other health care facilities most often work 40 hour weeks. Therapists employed by school districts must attend meetings and other events during school hours. More than 25% of therapists were employed part time during 2012.
Training and Education
Most employers today require or request that job applicants for this career have a master's degree in occupational therapy or a related field. The percentage of occupation therapists with a bachelor's degree or higher is 90%. Approximately 9% of occupational therapists went to college, but did not get a four year degree.
Submit a Resource