Occupational therapy is a branch of healthcare that enables people to manage daily challenges. Practitioners help patients who cannot perform certain tasks or a range of tasks due to a physical or psychological problem. They might use specialist techniques to maintain a patient’s mobility or rehabilitate someone who was injured in an accident.
The goal in each case is to nurture the patient’s independence, give them an enhanced quality of life and enable them to live with as much freedom as possible. It is a rewarding profession and one that is expected to grow much faster than others in the coming decade.
Working In A Huge Variety Of Settings
Occupational therapists work in a range of healthcare settings, from clinics and schools to in-home care and as part of health promotion events. Their scope of practice depends on their area of specialization and the type of training they undertake, both at the beginning and throughout their career, in the form of professional development.
Working occupational therapists can move into more senior roles by completing one of the online OTD programs at American International College. Their Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate is delivered by a faculty of skilled professionals with industry experience. It offers numerous networking opportunities and enables students to graduate within two years.
Assisting The Patient At Each Stage Of Their Recovery
At the start of a treatment program, an OT will evaluate the condition of a patient and consider their needs. With this information in hand, they will design a plan that addresses these needs and assists the person with meeting their targets. This could be anything from bathing independently to leaving the house alone or being able to walk without assistance.
Next, the OT will move on to look at the patient’s home and, if applicable, their school or working environment. They will suggest ways in which the space or equipment can be adapted to meet the needs of the patient and give them a better chance of acting independently.
OTs also collaborate with other members of the care team, from home carers to family members, and provide training on using the equipment they have supplied. They will also walk through each piece of equipment with the patient so they understand how to use it and why it will be helpful.
Finally, as the care plan progresses, the OT will have regular appointments with the patient to assess how things are going. They will document the progress that has been made, evaluate any improvements, and make suggestions for change if necessary.
On A Day-To-Day Basis, What Might An Occupational Therapist Do?
The daily work of an OT is influenced by the setting in which they work. In general, their role will involve helping a person find new ways of doing something or helping them to regain the skills they used to possess.
In cases where that is not possible, they will help a patient discover new skills through equipment that makes their daily chores easier. This profession is about helping people do things effectively at home, work or school without compromising their safety.
How Do Occupational Therapists Help Younger Patients?
In a school or at a child’s home, OTs will work alongside parents or teachers to help children improve a range of skills. This could focus on tasks such as handwriting or using technology, or it could be more concerned with giving the young person ideas for managing their emotions.
In other cases, the aim may be to enhance the child’s self-care abilities. The OT could help them learn to eat independently or use the bathroom alone. The aim in each instance is to ensure the child remains in good health and can live their best life.
How Do Patients With Brain Injuries Benefit From Occupational Therapy?
After a serious stroke or a brain injury caused by an accident, people tend to spend time in the hospital. As part of their treatment program, an OT will step in to assist in their recovery by helping them remember things, communicate, and adapt to their new life. The idea is to optimize the skills a patient has, which could mean modifying or adapting part of their home or workplace. They might need a wheelchair, a stair lift, or equipment for their bathroom to return home safely.
How Can Occupational Therapy Help Patients With A Mental Illness?
Many people who are living with a mental illness are engaged in outpatient programs. Delivered by an occupational therapist, these assist people with bipolar disorders, schizophrenia and other disorders to live at home and manage their condition.
The OT will advise them on establishing a daily routine, cooking healthy meals and budgeting. They might suggest that their patient joins a social group or gains some work experience. The idea is to support the patient’s recovery, help them apply for work and ensure they feel like part of a community.
What Can Seniors Gain From Occupational Therapy?
Older people may have physical conditions that make it difficult for them to do the things they enjoy, from hiking to cooking or painting. An OT can suggest changes to their home or provide aids, such as walkers, so the patient can still experience the activities that make them happy. If an elderly person is feeling isolated in their home, the OT can offer counseling to boost their confidence and help them find local clubs and groups to get involved with.
A Nurturing, Enabling, And Encouraging Role
An occupational therapist helps children and adults to complete everyday activities or “occupations”. Their role in the healthcare system is not about the diagnosis a patient has received or teaching people to live within their limitations. Instead, it involves giving people hope and listening to their aspirations. In practical terms, this means looking at what a patient wants to accomplish and understanding what challenges they may face in doing so. This supportive work can inspire patients to strive toward their recovery and give them a sense of positivity about their future.