Occupational therapy deals with mental, physical, and social well-being through activities of daily living. Occupational therapists work with people to help them maintain their independence in the home or at work. They also provide relief for those suffering from chronic pain or illness by teaching them how to modify their environment so they can do things without straining themselves. For example, an occupational therapist may teach someone with arthritis how to use tools instead of doing tasks like opening jars and lifting heavy objects, which may be too difficult for them. An occupational therapist works closely with other professionals such as physicians, case managers, nurses, rehabilitation specialists, and vocational counselors to provide comprehensive treatment plans that meet the needs of individuals across a wide range of conditions and situations.
Occupational therapy can be practiced in various settings, such as hospitals, clinics, homes, schools, and work environments. Regardless of where you choose to practice occupational therapy, your goals will remain the same: to help individuals develop, maintain, and restore their highest level of independence possible to engage in meaningful activities throughout their everyday lives. At the top of this post, you will find links to occupational therapy schools and information on how to become an O.T., as well as sample salaries by state.
1. What Is Occupational Therapy?
Occupational therapy focuses on helping people of all ages and abilities develop, recover, or maintain the skills they need to do daily living activities. Occupational therapists help individuals who have trouble with tasks such as dressing themselves because of reduced dexterity from arthritis or strokes; children with developmental delays due to autism spectrum disorders, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, or other conditions; adults recovering from brain injury; older adults experiencing memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. They also work in schools to help students deal with learning disabilities and ADHD. In addition, occupational therapists often provide home safety assessments for seniors and those recovering from injuries.
Occupational therapists use various methods, including education about adaptive equipment, hands-on training in relevant skills, and the development of strategies to improve living skills. Occupational therapists often collaborate with other medical and therapy professionals in a patient’s care, such as physicians, physical therapists, speech-language pathologists, nurses, and psychologists.
2. How to Become an Occupational Therapist?
OTs are skilled professionals who assess patients for their needs and design interventions that address those needs. Occupational Therapists must have a graduate degree in occupational therapy from an accredited university program before practicing as an O.T.
Occupational therapists can pursue Master’s degrees in education, public health, business administration, healthcare management, or research to continue doctoral programs.
A master’s degree such as an MBA (masters of business administration), MSW (masters of social work), or MPH (masters of public health) in O.T. takes two years to complete, often with a clinical internship. After being licensed, O.T.s can work in various settings such as hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, or private practices. There are many opportunities for O.T.s who wish to continue their education and earn a doctoral degree.
A doctoral degree is the entry point into academia, research, and leadership roles in occupational therapy.
Most of these programs require that students complete a year or more of clinical practice before admission.
Occupational Therapy practitioners must be trained in all aspects of patient care including, medical and pharmacological conditions, treatments, activities of daily living (ADL’s), and instrumental activities of daily living (IADL).
Occupational Therapists also provide psychosocial assessment and interventions.
O.T. students study the biological basis of diseases like cancer or diabetes and study human structure and function.
3. Duties and Responsibilities of an Occupational Therapist
Occupational therapists have a variety of duties and responsibilities that they must attend to provide quality care to their patients. These duties and responsibilities include, but are not limited to:
- -Assessing the patient’s needs
- -Designing interventions to address those needs
- -Providing treatment for medical and pharmacological conditions
- -Providing treatment for physical disabilities
- -Providing treatment for mental health conditions
- -Providing treatment for developmental disabilities
- -Providing training in activities of daily living (ADLs) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs)
- -Providing psychosocial assessments and interventions
- -Assessing, planning, implementing, and evaluating the patient’s progress
- -Evaluating the success of treatment plans to ensure their safety and effectiveness
Occupational therapists are responsible for providing treatment for patients who have a wide range of medical conditions. Some examples include but are not limited to diabetes mellifluous, stroke, arthritis, cancer, and traumatic brain injuries.
Occupational therapists also provide treatment to individuals with developmental disabilities such as cerebral palsy or Down syndrome.
Occupational Therapists must work with patients of all ages and backgrounds, including pediatric patients. O.T.s conduct assessments for infants and young children in addition to conducting evaluations that involve measuring height, weight, and body mass index.
Occupational therapists also use testing procedures to assess a patient’s ability to undertake activities of daily living (ADLs). ADLs include bathing, grooming, dressing, toileting, feeding, cooking food and meal preparation, housekeeping duties such as cleaning or laundry), using the phone or transportation. Occupational therapists also provide training in the performance of instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs), which include skills needed for managing money, shopping, using transportation, taking medications, preparing meals, and keeping appointments.
4. Skills One Requires to Become an Occupational Therapist.
A good occupational therapist has a lot of patience, self-confidence, and comfort with social interactions. The therapists should also provide the patients with the right environment for their needs. They should also be able to use sound thinking skills when making any decisions relating to their profession. An occupational therapist also needs significant knowledge about human anatomy and physiology, which they can use when treating patients. An occupational therapist must have excellent communication skills to work with different people in different situations effectively.
One of the primary skills one needs to become an occupational therapist is reading, writing, and comprehension. Therapists need to keep themselves informed about new procedures and updates related to their profession to provide optimal treatment.
5. Are the Different Types of Occupational Therapists?
Occupational therapy is a profession that has many different types of therapists.
Occupational therapists work in hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, and schools. They help people with developmental disabilities, and physical impairments engage in daily living activities and participate more fully in their communities. Occupational therapist’s education includes undergraduate study for four years followed by a master’s degree program lasting two or three years. The average salary for occupational therapists is $65,000 per year, according to Glass door research from 2017-2018.
The following are some different types of occupational therapists:
- Pediatric O.T.s specializes in treating children;
- Geriatric O.T.s typically focus on helping older adults maintain independence;
- Orthopedic O.T.s often treat patients recovering from accidents or surgery who have broken limbs;
- Hand therapists help people who have issues with the muscles, nerves, or veins of their hands;
- Mental health O.T.s focus on helping patients cope with anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions;
- Sensory integration (S.I.) therapists work directly with children who have trouble processing input from one or more of their senses.
6. How Much Do Occupational Therapist Assistants Make?
The national average salary for an occupational therapist assistant is over $50,000. For O.T. assistants who work in hospitals or doctor’s offices, the annual mean wage was about $55,780 as of May 2011.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook, published in April 2012, the salary range for OT As is between $41,000 and $55,000 per year as of May 2011 – this is just slightly above the national average annual wage, which was $48,320 in 2009 according to the BIS.
7. Is Becoming an Occupational Therapy Assistant a Good Career Choice?
Yes, occupational therapy assistants are now in demand with an upsurge of people with disabilities.
Occupational Therapist Assistant Programs are now more widely available with the increased awareness of occupational therapy’s benefits on so many aspects of life. Occupational therapist assistants play a crucial role in providing services to adults, children, and veterans who have physical or neurological/developmental disabilities so that they may live self-directed lives as independently as possible. OT As provide essential treatment interventions for medical diagnoses such as stroke, Alzheimer’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Cerebral Palsy, and Parkinson’s Disease.
The Occupational Therapy Assistant Program has increased in popularity, both at undergraduate and vocational schools. The projected growth for Occupational Therapist Assistants is expected to be 19% between 2010-2020 which is considered much higher than the average occupational profession.
Occupations related to physical therapy can be very rewarding with significant salary ranges.
8. Other Careers that Might Interest Someone Who Has Been Trained as an O.T.
Occupational therapists are in demand, but other careers might interest someone who has been trained as an O.T. People with this degree often go on to work in the following fields:
- -Physical Therapy Assistant
- -Healthcare Business Analyst
- -Senior Care Coordination Specialist
- -Occupational Therapist Assistant (OTA)
- -Nursing Home Administrator
- -Rehabilitation Supervisor or Director of Rehabilitation Services at a hospital or skilled nursing facility.
- -Vocational Rehabilitation, Vocational Education Counselor
- -Home Health Care Coordinator
- -Occupational Health and Safety Specialist
- -Rehabilitation Therapist
- -Physical Therapy Aide
9. Best Colleges to Study Occupational Therapy
Occupational therapy is a profession where the goal is to help people participate in daily life. Occupational therapists can work with mental health disorders, chronic illnesses, developmental disabilities, and physical disabilities. The best colleges to study occupational therapy include:
- -University of Washington
- -Case Western Reserve University
- -Drexel University –Georgia State University
- -Pennsylvania State University
- -the University of Illinois at Chicago
- –Arizona State University Occupational Therapy
A career in occupational therapy may be perfect for you if you’re interested in helping people who are disabled or have disabilities. Occupational therapists are often found working with patients of all ages, from infants to the elderly. The goal of an occupational therapist is to help clients find ways that they can do tasks on their own and live more independently. It takes a lot of creativity and patience because every person has different abilities and limitations. One day an O.T. might work with someone whose stroke affected her fine motor skills while another patient could need help finding new technology solutions after losing his sight due to glaucoma.