A licensed occupational therapist helps in the rehabilitation of patients with an emphasis on helping individuals cope with a temporary or permanent impairment of physical or mental abilities. While physical therapists help patients recover and improve function, occupational therapists help them to adapt to their work and general life environment. The disabilities or injuries dealt with by licensed occupational therapists are frequently temporary in nature. For example, the therapist may help an office worker recovering from repetitive motion injuries (such as carpal tunnel syndrome) to reduce pain and prevent recurrence; the therapist may assess their work station and work with the patient develop recovery and maintenance strategies.
The occupational therapist also frequently assists persons who have suffered a longer-term change in motor and/or mental acuity. In this role, the therapist helps the patient adapt to any changes in lifestyle and work ability. The therapist strategizes with patients and then regularly trains them in issues related to transitioning to life with the disability or impairment. The occupational therapist also helps the patient with any equipment or technology that they may use.
Licensed occupational therapists must receive at least a bachelor's degree in a related field, as well as complete all necessary testing and internships to gain certification in the field. Occupational therapists often work in hospitals or larger clinics (especially those that have an emphasis on orthopedic care), but some school districts and even large businesses sometimes hire occupational therapists to work with students and employees who may need this specialized assistance.
Licensed Occupational Therapist Tasks
Test and evaluate patients' physical and mental abilities and analyze medical data to determine rehabilitation goals for patient.
Help clients improve decision making, abstract reasoning, memory, sequencing, coordination and perceptual skills using computer programs.
Select and recommend activities that will help individuals learn work and life-management skills consistent with their needs and capabilities.
Consult with rehabilitation team to select activity programs and coordinate with other therapeutic activities.
Record prognosis, treatment, response and progress in patient's chart or computer database.