Who Is an Occupational Therapist? What Are Their Roles and responsibilities?
Occupational therapists are allied health professionals who help people to regain their health and well-being by enabling them to participate in the everyday occupations of life such as education, work, volunteering, and self-care activities.
They enable people with disabilities to identify and implement methods that aid their participation in occupations. They assist people with their mental, physical, and developmental issues that impact an individual’s ability to perform everyday tasks.
What does an occupational therapist do?
Many occupational therapists work with people across the lifespan in a range of settings such as hospitals, rehabilitation centers, private practices, aged care facilities, schools, community health centers, and government organisations.
Restore Work-Life Abilities
The role of OTs is to help individuals become independent, lead a better quality of life, and reduce restrictions as possible. After therapy, people with disabilities easily integrate into the community.
Occupational therapy provides support to people whose health or disability makes it hard for them to do the things they would like to do. Occupational therapists help children do things like eating, dressing, and going to school. Children with disabilities and additional needs often work with OTs.
Occupational therapy differs from other healthcare professions such as nursing or physical therapy in that it focuses on treating the whole patient instead of treating a disability, ailment, or injury. Occupational therapy is holistic and it focuses on the patient’s wellbeing and functionality.
They customise interventions for every patient. If you have a child with a disability and an elderly person with mobility issues, they create customisable solutions for both of them.
OTs help people cope with daily life activities using different strategies, tools, and exercises. They ensure that their patients function well at home and at the community level.
Writing regular occupational therapy reports on client progress. The progress reports help the OTs to develop, monitor, and improve the treatment plans of clients.
Why would I go to an occupational therapist?
Birth defects and injuries
Children are born with various birth defects such as spinal cord injuries. Other children are born with cerebral palsy, and traumatic injuries to the brain or spinal cord. Such children need therapy as they grow to assimilate into an active daily life where they can perform self-care activities. When dealing with cases such as cerebral palsy, an occupational therapist can help with assistive devices to help the patient communicate or move.
An occupational therapist helps people with poor balance issues to walk well. Occupational therapists often discuss with their patients the things that make them vulnerable to falls. They will suggest a fall prevention strategy that includes a change in environment and lifestyle. They also suggest assistive devices such as walking canes to offer support and improve navigation.
When a person experiences an accident, their joints could experience some problems that affect movement. Diseases such as arthritis affect the joints and one needs therapy to regain their use. An occupational therapist would suggest methods that would help people with joint problems exercise and move with ease.
One of the biggest challenges with Alzheimer’s disease is that a person becomes forgetful. It is difficult to remember things. An occupational therapist would help by labeling the drawers, and medicine, to lower your frustration. They have to simulate activities that keep the patient active and offer them communication solutions.
Mental health issues
Occupational therapists are at the forefront of helping people with mental health issues. OTs help by creating activities that help them socialise and talk with their peers. Once they learn about mental issues, they help them to develop coping mechanisms and live valuable lives.
Severe Burns and Injuries
Burns can cause movement issues and affect the life of a patient. OTs help the patients learn how to live with their burn injuries and lead productive lives.
People with behavioural issues such as ADHD have issues concentrating on tasks. Others include people with autism. Occupational therapists help them to connect their physical selves with their emotions.
What is the work environment like for an occupational therapist?
Occupational therapists work in schools, home health services, and nursing homes. At times, they can be out in the field teaching their clients about coping mechanisms.
How long does it take to become an occupational therapist?
An occupational therapist candidate must enrol for a bachelor’s degree in physiology, mental and physical health, paediatrics, anatomy, biology, or geriatrics. These courses are not a requirement, but one needs them to apply for a master’s degree in occupational therapy. If you already have an undergraduate degree in an unrelated area, you may be able to enrol directly in the Master of Occupational Therapy.
Remember that every state needs an occupational therapist to have a license. You must have one before you as a therapist. Occupational Therapy Council of Australia (OTC) maintains and develops standards of education, training, and assessment for occupational therapists in Australia.
As they work with other healthcare professionals, OTs must adhere to Australian Health Practitioner Agency standards and policies. All therapists must be registered before they practise in Australia. This registration process is the legislative responsibility of the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) and is operated through the Occupational Therapy Board of Australia (OTBA).
As technology changes, all occupational therapists must continue to engage in further studies to remain relevant and maintain their licenses. It is important to choose an area of specialisation or remain a generalist.
Where can an occupational therapist work?
Occupational therapists practise in a wide range of settings. At one point, they could be working in a children’s home helping children with autism, cerebral palsy, or a sensory problem. Next, they can switch to community care and assistive living where they will teach the seniors how to walk with mobility aids or improve their mobility.
Hiring a person to perform your chores is a task and it is quite costly. Most people will opt for home healthcare services to ensure that they regain some level of independence. They address obstacles in diabetes management, meal planning, basic hygiene, physical activity, and healthy coping strategies. Therapy reduces cognitive limitations to lower confusion and agitation. They interact with people in rehabilitation centres and attend home calls.
OTs help substance abuse patients with their daily lives and recovery efforts. They have exercises that help them improve their cognitive thinking abilities and memory. In some cases, they offer community-based resources, support options for peer groups, and support them to engage in healthy lifestyles.
Are there any specialty fields for occupational therapists?
There are specialty fields for OT’s and these include gerontology, mental health, physical rehabilitation, paediatrics, physical rehabilitation, environmental modification, driving and community mobility, feeding, eating, and swallowing.
Find an occupational therapist practitioner
You can find an occupational therapist through an online search. It is possible to get recommendations from your doctor or school. Your friends and family can refer you to a good occupational therapist. The OT Directory lists over 3,000 occupational therapists working in private practise settings throughout Australia. If you need one for a particular area of specialty, make a search with those specifications.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the role of an occupational therapist?
An occupational therapist helps people with mental, physical, and developmental issues to participate in daily life activities such as personal hygiene, volunteering, education, work, and socialisation.
Where does an occupational therapist work?
Many occupational therapists work in assistive homes for the elderly, retirement homes, community health centres, private clinics, rehabilitation facilities, non-government organisations, schools, and nursing homes.
Why would you go to an occupational therapist?
Birth defects and injuries affect the brain and spinal cord functions and a child needs therapy to perform daily activities. People who have suffered from injuries, joint issues, cancer, and behavioural health issues need occupational therapists. Occupational therapists also help people with mental health issues.
What do you need to become an occupational therapist?
To become an Occupational Therapist you need to complete an undergraduate degree with clinical placement.
Do you need to register as an Occupational Therapist?
The Occupational Therapy Council of Australia develops standards of practice and education. They also issue registration to allow OTs to practice.
Occupational Therapists Near Me
Better Rehab Occupational Therapists service in Bankstown, Blacktown, Central Coast, Newcastle, Northern Beaches, Macquarie Park, Maroubra, Penrith, Wollongong, Canberra, Gippsland, Greensborough, Moonee Ponds, Mornington, Mulgrave,Briar Hill Surrey Hills, Werribee, Chermside, Gold Coast, Ipswich, North Lakes, Springwood, Stones Corner, Sunshine Coast, Toowoomba, Cockburn Central, Inglewood, Joondalup, Adelaide.
The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA)
Occupational Therapy Board of Australia (OTBA)