What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational Therapy Degree

The basic role of an occupational therapist is to help patients who have mental, emotional, development or physical problems to perform basic everyday tasks. These patients will have found their condition debilitating and the skill of the therapist is to improve reasoning, ability, and motor function. When such abilities cannot be improved, the therapist will attempt to teach appropriate techniques to help the patient compensate for the limitations of their condition. The overall aim is to ensure that patients continue to live independent and productive lives.

The everyday tasks that people need to carry out are such activities as washing, dressing, cooking, cleaning, and other basic functions. The occupational therapist uses various techniques to help the patient achieve independence. A typical example is when the patient has problems co-coordinating movement with sight such as picking up objects. The occupational therapist will design specific training exercises to help develop the co-ordination of the patient and demonstrate how the exercises should be performed. Similarly the patient may need to develop dexterity and strength and, the therapist can help design the best exercises that will improve these functions.

If a patient has problems with reasoning or problem solving a therapist may use specially designed computer programs to develop these abilities and maintain independent living. Some patients suffer from permanent conditions such as muscular dystrophy or spinal cord injuries and in such cases they may need special equipment to help them adapt to their conditions and help them with everyday tasks. This equipment may include wheelchairs, or dressing and eating aids.

Healthcare in the workplace

Not only do occupational therapists help patients at home but also in a workplace environment. Patients may suffer difficulties in obtaining a job or actually carrying out specific occupations. The Occupational therapist may help in finding suitable employment, evaluating specific tasks in the workplace, and assessing the patient's progress in completing such work satisfactorily. In some countries it is a legal requirement for employers to make "reasonable adjustment" to the workplace in order to accommodate people with specific disabilities and the occupational therapist can help the employer to understand what adjustment might be required and then assess the modification when complete to ensure that the patient is receiving the appropriate aid.

The occupational therapist completes and maintains patient records and works with all ages and disabilities. They may work with children in a classroom environment assessing equipment or alternatively they may work to provide early intervention therapy to limit problems developing problems before they become significant.

Geriatric care and coping skills for the mentally handicapped

At the other end of the scale, occupational therapists also work with the elderly. In many such cases the patient may have trouble coping both physically and mentally with the problems resulting from advancing age. An occupational therapist will assess the patient's difficulties and make recommendations for adaptive equipment or specific exercise to help them remain mobile for as long as possible.

If a patient suffers mental problems, the therapist will help them to develop skills that ensure they can interact with the world around them and cope with the demands of modern life. They may train the patient to develop new skills such as budgeting or shopping, particularly when the patient has previously relied on someone else such as a partner to carry out such chores. Occupational therapists also help people who are recovering from alcohol or drug abuse to ensure they return to a normal life with as little problem as possible.

Across the country, students are attending accredited college programs in Occupational Therapy. What makes these programs special is that they are internet based and the student doesn't even have to leave their home. Earning a college degree has been made simple for busy Americans, and the opportunities that await graduates are increasingly in demand.

Find a degree program in Occupational Therapy and set your education on the path for success.

Find College Degrees
Need Stories