Occupational Therapy focuses on helping people across the lifespan to fulfill the things they want to do by using therapy for meaningful everyday activities. Occupational Therapists and Occupational Therapy Assistants employ various interventions that deal with different populations. Occupational Therapists and Occupational Therapy Assistants could work with young children with disabilities, people who are trying to recover from injuries, providing the means for people to learn how to regain skills, and support for older adults who are undergoing changes mentally and physically.
Occupational Therapy could evaluate a patient’s home, workplace, school, or their environment to develop a specific evaluation to provide them the right intervention. By looking at their environment, Occupational Therapists can provide the patients with the right tools, equipment, proper training, and the right accommodation for patients to fulfill their daily tasks. Some examples of daily tasks are feeding one’s self, bathing, cooking, dressing, and driving. Patients can use these daily tasks as a goal or as a measurement of how well they are doing. Occupational Therapy also focus on rehabilitating patients who need to go back into their careers after an injury. Therapists make sure that the right interventions are utilized to make sure that the proper skills are trained and rehabilitated. Occupational Therapists and Occupational Therapy Assistants work with patients to make sure that patients can adapt to the environment or are given the right tools to fulfill their goals independently.
Occupational Therapy Population
Occupational Therapy can be used in many populations. Therapists can work with children as early as a few months old who are trying to learn motor skills to an older adult adapting to changes in their motor skills. Occupational Therapists could work with children or adults who are diagnosed with a disability, whether it be mental or physical. They could also work with patients who just suffered an injury and would like to get back to work or their normal day to day living. Occupational Therapy could also look into schools to incorporate a better learning environment for children or adults who have been diagnosed with a disability. This kind of therapy could also be employed in a work environment to accommodate better equipment or adaptations for workers. Lastly, Occupational Therapy could be used by anyone who are struggling or are experiencing some kind of difficulty accomplishing daily tasks that they wish they could do independently.
Occupational Therapy Settings
Occupational Therapists could work in various settings. They could practice in hospitals, in day care facilities, nursing homes, schools, universities, and workplaces. They could own a private practice and start their own practice. They could travel to their client’s home or practice in residential settings. They could also travel for work, and go from state or state or practice internationally. Lastly, Occupational Therapists could go into research to develop better interventions or equipment for patients.
Occupational Therapy Areas of Work
Occupational Therapy touches on many areas of work. Therapists could work with children and adolescent mental health; alcohol and addiction services; stroke rehabilitation; brain injury rehabilitation; hand therapy; pediatric healthcare and rehabilitation; intellectual disability; palliative care and oncology; musculoskeletal disorder; pain management; housing adaptations; working adaptations; specialist seating; ergonomics; acute hospital care; nursing home and residential care; private healthcare; schools and universities; and research.
Occupational Therapy and Research
Occupational Therapy research focuses on health care issues and improving current interventions that are currently used in the field. Research findings are then used by practitioners to treat patients better than they have before. Some of the fields that Occupational Therapists are doing their research on are: children and youth; neurorehabilitation; mental health; rehabilitation and disability; health and wellness; productive aging; and work and industry.
These are some of the journals that currently publish information for Occupational Therapy:
The American Journal of Occupational Therapy: http://ajot.aota.org/index.aspx
OTJR: Occupation, Participation and Health: http://journals.sagepub.com/home/otj
Physical and Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/ipop20
The Open Journal of Occupational Therapy: http://scholarworks.wmich.edu/ojot/
Students Who Are Interested in Becoming An Occupational Therapist
Occupational Therapy is a field that is always looking for students who have the passion to help others. Some key information to keep in mind if you are considering Occupational Therapy as a career in the future is to ask questions. You could reach out to the program or the school you would like to apply in. If there are any questions about any of the prerequisites, feel free to email anyone in the admission board for any clarification.
Although there is a posted requirement for shadowing hours, shoot for more hours. Diversify the locations that you volunteer in. Shadow as many locations and populations that you are possible for you. Start early and accumulate as much as you can.
Community service, especially with the populations who may seek the help of an Occupational Therapist, could be beneficial for you. It could teach you the value of what your future career could do to other people. Along these lines, it could solidify your cause to pick Occupational Therapy as your career path.
There are many Occupational Therapy schools and programs. They have different requirements as well. When applying, pay close attention to their requirements as they may be different. Although grades are important, there are other ways you can compensate for them such as scoring high on GREs, writing an excellent personal statement, and strong letters of recommendation.