Occupational Therapy

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Occupational therapists (OTís) are allied health professionals who help maximize a person's independence. OTs teach daily living activities, health maintenance and self care, and consult on equipment choices.are primarily concerned with helping the patient learn to perform tasks and activities required by daily life (e.g., self-care (dressing, cooking, eating), homemaking, work/school/leisure activities).  OTís help people improve their ability to perform tasks in their daily living and working environments. They work with individuals who have conditions that are mentally, physically, developmentally, or emotionally disabling. They also help them to develop, recover, or maintain daily living and work skills.  Exercises may be used to increase strength and dexterity and coordination (e.g., eye-hand), while paper and pencil exercises may be chosen to improve visual acuity and the ability to discern patterns.  OTís also use computer programs to help clients improve decision making, abstract reasoning, problem solving, and perceptual skills, as well as memory, sequencing, and coordinationóall of which are important for independent living. OTís not only help clients improve basic motor functions and reasoning abilities, but also compensate for permanent loss of function. 

OTís also instruct in the use of adaptive equipment such as wheelchairs, splints, and AT aids for eating and dressing.  OTís also may design/provide equipment needed at home or at work, and may provide computer-aided adaptive equipment and teach clients with severe limitations how to use it. Their goal is to help clients have independent, productive, and satisfying lives. 


Registered Occupational Therapist (OTR):   Has completed 4 years of college and a 6-month supervised internship, and has been examined and certified by the American Occupational Therapy Certification Board (AOTCB).  Within the US there are roughly 70,000 OTís in about 75,000 jobs.

Certified occupational therapist assistant (COTA):  Has completed a 2-year or associate degree and a 12-week supervised internship, and has been examined and certified by the AOTCB.

A occupational therapy aide has been trained by the institution in which he or she works.  

Occupational therapists held about 73,000 jobs in 1998; about 1 in 4 worked part time. About 1 in 10 occupational therapists held more than one job in 1998. The largest number of jobs was in hospitals, including many in rehabilitation and psychiatric hospitals. 

In 1999, entry-level education was offered in 88 bachelorís degree programs; 11 post-bachelorís certificate programs for students with a degree other than occupational therapy; and 53 entry-level masterís degree programs. Ö

See also the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) web site.  


Copyright by Jack Winters.
For problems or questions regarding this web contact Jack Winters.
Last updated: January 17, 2001.