Occupational therapy is a branch of rehabilitation sciences that helps people with disabilities, illnesses and injuries regain the ability to participate in desired activities. These activities can be broken down into two main categories:
Activities of daily living (ADLs): These include basic self-care tasks, such as toileting, bathing, grooming, dressing and feeding.
Instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs): These include activities that allow a person to live independently but are not considered basic self-care tasks — such as cooking, typing, housekeeping, meal prep, financial management, medication management, transportation management, and even sports and leisure.
The occupational therapist's role is to help a patient learn how to perform a given task safely, efficiently and effectively — given the particular physical and cognitive impairments he or she is facing. Occupational therapist jobs involve working closely with each patient to help ensure the patient's individual goals are voiced and addressed.
Patients can come from all walks of life — including children, young athletes, pregnant and postpartum women, working adults and seniors. Common conditions that may benefit from occupational therapy include:
Burns, wounds, traumatic brain injuries and other types of acute trauma
Cardiovascular disease, including congestive heart failure and stroke
Congenital and genetic conditions (e.g., cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, muscular dystrophy and spina bifida)
Sports, personal and/or work-related musculoskeletal injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome and rotator cuff strains
Neurological conditions, including Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's dementia and Huntington's disease
An Occupational Therapist's Scope of Practice: Typical Job Roles and Opportunities
An occupational therapist is highly trained in the evaluation and treatment of the human body and its various systems (including cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, vestibular, neurological and integumentary) — which may be affected by illness, injury or disease. Occupational therapy careers can be found in schools, hospitals, inpatient rehab facilities, certain outpatient centers and home health care. The primary job roles include:
Creating and implementing customized treatment plans aimed to improve a person's function (techniques may include exercises to improve tissue healing, strength, range of motion, balance and endurance; patient education; cognitive assessments; wound care; and modalities such as therapeutic ultrasound and electrical stimulation)
Supervising occupational therapy assistants and rehab aides who may be assisting with patient treatments
Evaluating for, prescribing, modifying and instructing in the use of adaptive equipment that may aid with task performance (this includes weighted utensils, prosthetic devices, and tools to assist with dressing and bathing)
Periodically assessing the patient's progress and modifying treatment as necessary to confirm the patient achieves maximal functional outcomes
Performing in-depth home, school and/or job evaluations to determine barriers to success and make appropriate recommendations
Working collaboratively with the entire multidisciplinary team for a given patient to ensure continuity of care (this may include physical therapists, speech and language pathologists, doctors, social workers, surgeons, teachers and caregivers)
Educational Requirements to Become an Occupational Therapist
To become an occupational therapist, a person must obtain a master’s degree through an accredited institution and pass the Occupational Therapy National Board Exam prior to applying for a license to practice. Licensure requirements vary slightly state by state.
Wondering if an occupational therapy career is right for you? Interested in advancing your clinical practice? Contact Invo-Progressus to find out about exciting OT jobs in your area.
Delivering professionals who provide children with the best possible services is our greatest priority. Our team excels in placing therapists who are invested partners in each child’s success.