what is OT

What is an Occupational Therapist


Occupational therapists assist in improving a person’s ability to perform tasks in living and working environments. They work with people suffering from mental, physical, developmental and emotional conditions. Occupational Therapists assist clients with improvement of motor functions and reasoning, as well as permanent loss of function. Such assistance will enable clients to lead independent, productive and satisfying lives.

Occupational Therapy Education and Training

Both Canada and the United States regulate occupational therapists. A bachelor’s degree, followed by a master’s degree meets minimum requirements. All Occupational Therapists must complete training in programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education and pass a national certification exam to practice. Also, training must include supervised fieldwork, as part of the occupational therapy curriculum. Only then, will an occupational therapist be allowed to obtain a license to practice occupational therapy.

Occupational Therapist duties

Occupational therapists assess clients and help them perform a myriad of daily tasks. Accurate records and evaluations are an important aspect of supplying a client with proper therapeutic exercises. For example, a client with short-term memory loss will be encouraged to make lists, while a client with problems in coordination will be assigned exercises for hand-eye coordination. A work-site environmental evaluation can lead to modifications, which result in a client’s success at work. An ergonomic assessment enables a computer user to minimize the risk of developing repetitive strain injuries. Variable clients lead to variable duties for an occupational therapist.

Assessment Areas

Three major areas need assessment by the occupational therapist prior to prescribing a therapy program. First, self-care abilities require evaluation. For example; does the client wake up, shower, dress and brush teeth? Secondly, leisure activities need assessment. Does the client continue being involved in fun activities such as hobbies, sports and socialization? Third, how affected is the clients ability to participate in paid work or volunteer work? All three aspects of a client’s life need evaluation for the Occupational Therapist to create a functional occupational therapy program.

Occupational Therapist specializations

Clients of all ages and disabilities benefit from occupational therapy. Occupational Therapists work in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, schools, and in the community. Occupational Therapy treatment for toddlers at risk of developmental delays will promote listening, social play, grooming, and dressing skills. Those working with elderly clients may assist with wheelchair assessment, scooter assessment, driver rehabilitation, home accessibility evaluation or proper alternative transportation options. A medically disabled person with spinal injuries may be able to increase mobilization with a light-weight wheelchair or scooter, per suggestion of an occupational therapist. Occupational Therapy involving mental health teaches clients to engage and cope with daily life, such as shopping, homemaking and public transportation.

Client Collaboration

The client has a collaborative role in the implementation of a treatment program. Goals of occupational therapy include client participation and enablement of occupation. The occupational therapist works closely with the client to decide on implementation of goals. As client-based programs begin execution, monitoring, modification and evaluation become critical to positive therapy outcome. Together, the client and the Occupational Therapist develop a symbiotic relationship.

Occupational Therapist, Occupational therapy, Wheelchair assessment