Occupational therapists (OTs) help people learn or regain daily living or work skills. They help people who have mental, physical, or developmental disabilities. These disabilities are often caused by birth defects, injuries, illnesses, or aging.
Occupational therapists write treatment plans that set specific goals for patients. They discuss their plans with other workers such as doctors, physical therapists, or social workers. They also train nurses and other health care staff in therapy techniques so they can help with the therapy.
Therapists conduct many different activities with their patients. Some activities are designed to improve physical strength and coordination. Other activities are designed to improve vision, memory, or reasoning. They teach some patients to use wheelchairs and other physical aids. Therapists may also design or make special equipment that patients need at work or home and recommend ways for patients to change their homes to meet their needs.
Therapists may specialize in working with patients of a certain age or specific disability. This includes:
- Elderly patients who want to live independently
- Children with developmental delays
- Adults with permanent disabilities
Some therapists help patients find and keep jobs. They arrange jobs, plan work activities, and follow patients' progress. Occupational therapists often lead programs in schools, hospitals, community settings, and other institutions. Often these programs are designed to promote health and awareness of disabilities.
Occupational therapists are similar to physical therapists in that both types of workers are concerned with physical movement. However, occupational therapists are also concerned with psychological and social factors.