OTs help people who have difficulty doing everyday tasks due to illness, injury, or disability. But what does an occupational therapist do exactly? Let’s take a closer look and find out how to start a career in this field!
If you’ve ever had a surgery, broken a bone, been in a car accident, or experienced any other type of physical injury, you may have interacted with an occupational therapist. OTs help people who have difficulty doing everyday tasks due to illness, injury, or disability. But what does an occupational therapist do to help patients? Let’s find out!
What Does an Occupational Therapist Do?
An occupational therapist (OT) is a professional who helps people of all ages participate in the activities they want and need to do daily. This may include helping children with developmental disabilities learn the skills necessary for school and play, assisting seniors in regaining independence after an injury or illness, or helping someone to recover from a brain injury regain the ability to perform everyday tasks. What does an occupational therapist do to help patients?
An occupational therapist helps people overcome limitations that result from physical, developmental, social, or emotional problems. They use a variety of methods, including exercises, education, and equipment, to help their patients improve their ability to perform daily activities.
While the main focus of an occupational therapist is to help people regain functionality, they also play an important role in preventing further decline. They do this by working with people to identify and address potential risks that could lead to injury or illness. Occupational therapists also work to promote healthy lifestyles and help people prevent injuries or illnesses in the first place.
An occupational therapist (OT) is a healthcare professional who helps people with physical, mental, or developmental delays live fuller, more independent lives. OTs work with patients with both temporary and permanent disabilities of all ages and from all walks of life.
What Does an Occupational Therapist Do? Daily Tasks
Some common tasks that an occupational therapist may perform on a daily basis include:
- assessing a patient’s level of functioning and needs;
- developing a treatment plan to improve the patient’s level of functioning;
- implementing therapies and rehabilitation to help the patient regain skills or learn new ones;
- providing early intervention therapy to infants and toddlers;
- teaching patients how to use appropriate medical equipment, like wheelchairs and eating aids;
- helping patients with their everyday household chores;
- evaluating the patient’s progress and making adjustments to the treatment plan as needed;
- educating the patient and family members about ways to manage the condition and promoting wellness;
- collaborating with other healthcare professionals, like pediatrics and physical therapists, to provide comprehensive care.
What Does an Occupational Therapist Do? OTs Techniques
Occupational therapists use a variety of techniques to help their patients achieve their goals. These may include:
- Therapeutic activities: using everyday activities as a way to improve the patient’s level of functioning. For example, an OT might have a patient sort laundry as a way to improve fine motor skills.
- Adaptive equipment: using specialized equipment to help the patient with daily activities. For example, an OT might prescribe a wheelchair for a patient who has difficulty walking.
- Sensory integration: using different sensory stimuli to help the patient process information and regulate their emotions. For example, an OT might use aromatherapy to help a patient who is feeling anxious.
- Psychotherapy: helping the patient explore emotions and thoughts that may be contributing to their condition.
The goal of occupational therapy assistants and aides is to help the patient live as independently as possible and participate in the activities that are meaningful to them.
Who Do Occupational Therapists Help?
Occupational therapists help people of all ages participate in the activities they need and want to do. They work with individuals who have conditions that are physical, mental, developmental, social, or emotional. These conditions can limit a person’s ability to do things they need or want to do.
Occupational therapists also work with populations at risk, such as those who are elderly, who have been injured, or who suffer from diseases like cerebral palsy. They work to prevent or minimize the effects of disabling conditions.
How to Start a Career in Occupational Therapy?
We answered to a question: what does an occupational therapist do? Now let’s talk about how to become one. If you’re thinking about a career in occupational therapy, you’re probably wondering how to get started. Here’s a quick overview of what you’ll need to do:
- Complete an accredited occupational therapy program and get your degree in occupational therapy. These programs are typically two to three years in length and will prepare you for the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy exam.
- Pass the NBCOT exam. After you’ve completed an accredited occupational therapy program, you’ll need to pass the NBCOT exam in order to become a licensed occupational therapist.
- Get licensed in your state. In order to practice occupational therapy, you’ll need to be licensed in the state in which you plan to work. Each state has its own licensing requirements, so be sure to check with your state’s licensing board for more information.
- Find a job. Once you’ve completed your education and passed the NBCOT exam, you’ll be ready to start looking for an occupational therapy job. There are many settings in which occupational therapists work, so you’ll need to decide what type of environment you’re interested in. You can search for jobs on the American Occupational Therapy Association’s website.
Occupational Therapy Job Outlook
The job outlook for occupational therapists is excellent. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment of occupational therapists will grow 24 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations.
There are several reasons for this strong growth projection. First, as the population ages, there will be an increasing need for occupational therapists to help older adults maintain their independence. In addition, occupational therapists will be needed to help children and adults with developmental disabilities or mental health conditions live more independently.
What does an occupational therapist do? Well, now you know!