What Are Occupational Therapy Practitioners?

March 2, 2016 | 8:00 am | By Pants Up Easy

If you’ve recently suffered a disabling injury or illness, or you’re involved in the care of someone who has, you’ve probably heard so much about different doctors and therapists that it’s difficult to keep track of who they all are and what their roles are on your support team. Among the roster of professionals that you’re likely to be introduced to is occupational therapy practitioners. Let’s look at who they are, and how they’re going to help you.

What is occupational therapy?

 In short, occupational therapy is the type of therapy that helps people perform meaningful activities in their daily lives. The term “occupation”, in this case, refers to these activities. It includes work, as you would expect, but in a broader sense it also includes other activities such as education, self-care, and social interactions.

 Who is occupational therapy for?

 There is a wide spectrum of people who need the services of occupational therapy practitioners. People who have sustained spinal cord injuries (SCI) certainly benefit from occupational therapy. Children with disabilities of any type or level of impairment are candidates as well. Occupational therapy can help them do things like the other kids at school do. It’s for anyone dealing with the effects of an illness or any sort of an accident. In fact, it’s for anyone who, for any reason, doesn’t feel that they can effectively accomplish the tasks in life that they need to or wish to.

 Who are the practitioners?

 Occupational therapy practitioners include occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants. They’re skilled and schooled in understanding human growth and development. Their focus is on illnesses, injuries, and other disabling conditions, especially the physical, emotional, psychological, and social ramifications of those conditions.

 What do occupational therapy practitioners do?

 The services provided by occupational therapy practitioners are as varied as the needs of the patients they serve. Generally speaking, they design personalized programs of treatment with the aim of improving their patients’ ability to perform the necessary activities of their lives. They assess the skills and abilities of the patients and intervene when changes are needed. They perform evaluations and examinations of the environment – home, job, or school, and suggest modifications and adaptations. In many cases, they will recommend adaptive equipment, which helps assist patients in their activities, and train them on the optimal ways to use those devices. Occupational therapy practitioners also provide education, guidance, and support to caregivers and family members.

 What about their education and licensing?

 An occupational therapist general holds a master’s or doctorate degree in occupational therapy. Occupational therapy assistants are likely to enter the field with an associate’s degree in the field. In most states, occupational therapy practitioners must be certified by passing examinations given by the National Board for Certification In Occupational Therapy, though the level of regulation varies from state to state. The professional organization for occupational therapy practitioners is the American Occupational Therapy Organization. Their website also offers lots of additional information and resources for patients and caregivers.


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