What is Occupational Therapy?
A rapidly growing field in healthcare, occupational therapy involves the assessment of patient functionality to develop therapies enabling them to carry out all daily activities and obligations. Often patients will seek out occupational therapy as a means to help them recover from an injury or condition, or to maintain their functionality despite chronic illness or disability. Simply put, occupational therapy is a practice that helps people of all ages carry out the actions which they either want or need to complete.
Examples of ways in which occupational therapy can be used to assist others includes instances where Occupational Therapists and Occupational Therapy Assistants work with geriatric patients to overcome the cognitive and physical changes associated with aging. Alternatively, occupational therapy can be used to help injured patients regain motor skills, or to help child patients with disabilities to perform to their fullest potential in the classroom.
Occupational Therapist Job Description
As an Occupational Therapist, professionals work with patients of all ages to help them overcome a wide range of obstacles. Typically, patients will seek out occupational therapy because these obstacles have impacted their ability to complete certain functions which inhibit their overall quality of life. For examples, patients who have had a stroke, are experiencing developmental delays or who were in a serious car accident may need assistance learning how to carry out their everyday responsibilities.
To assist these patients, Occupational Therapists, or “OTs,” will start by assessing their condition, documenting health histories and determining goals. They will also observe them engaging in a series of tasks for movements which will help better exemplify their current state of wellness and functionality. Although OTs usually take the lead on these examinations, Occupational Therapy Assistants may assist in providing aid to these professionals during both evaluations and therapies.
Lastly, Occupational Therapists will come up with a plan to treat their patient, which will incorporate movements and activities working toward established goals. Through these therapies, an OT will be able to determine if a patient is in need of any special equipment, such as a wheelchair or walker, to assist them in everyday functions. They may also evaluate their homes or workplaces to see what improvements, if any, could be made to these settings to additional help improve patient function. Consulting with and educating family and friends on these best accommodation practices is another crucial element of this career in healthcare.
Occupational Therapist Assistant Job Description
Just as the career title implies, an Occupational Therapy Assistants (OTA) aides an Occupational Therapist in their endeavors to treat patients.In providing this assistance, an OTA will help them perform all essential personal and professional activities under the supervision of an OT. They will also teach patients proper ways to move about, stretch their muscles to improve function and to monitor activities for correctness in their completion.
Occupational Therapy Assistants are further tasked with documenting and reporting patient progress and feedback to their supervising OT. These professionals often work directly with patients with learning disabilities to teach them skills increasing the possibilities of future independence. Occupational therapy can also be used to treat children and young adults with developmental disabilities, including autism. Learn about Occupational Therapy Assistant requirements today!
Occupational Therapy Skills and Experience
Working in the field of occupational therapy, there are a number of skills and experiences which will help best set professionals up for success. First, occupational therapy professionals must be kind, compassionate and caring individuals, dedicated to helping improve the lives of others. Furthermore, OTs and OTAs must be able to perform their responsibilities regardless of whether a patient comes across as frustrated, rude or impatient or as timid and calm. They must expect to interact and treat all types of people and personalities!
Additionally, these healthcare workers need to have superb communication skills enabling them to effectively relay messages to patients and other healthcare professionals. Communication skills further help occupational therapy employees to listen and explain all kinds of situations and tasks to their patients in terms they can easily understand.
Other skills which are imperative in this field include critical thinking skills, organizational skills and the ability to adapt when a therapy proves ineffective. Patience and physical strength are other necessities, as occupational therapy professionals help their patients perform and complete therapies, and they spend much of their days up on their feet. To truly excel in their roles and help patients, both Occupational Therapists and Occupational Therapy Assistants must be able to establish strong, trusting relationships with their patients.
Learn about other occupational therapy careers today!