What do Occupational Therapists do?

Assess, plan, organize, and participate in rehabilitative programs that help build or restore vocational, homemaking, and daily living skills, as well as general independence, to persons with disabilities or developmental delays.

  • Plan, organize, and conduct occupational therapy programs in hospital, institutional, or community settings to help rehabilitate those impaired because of illness, injury or psychological or developmental problems.
  • Test and evaluate patients' physical and mental abilities and analyze medical data to determine realistic rehabilitation goals for patients.
  • Select activities that will help individuals learn work and life-management skills within limits of their mental and physical capabilities.
  • Evaluate patients' progress and prepare reports that detail progress.
  • Complete and maintain necessary records.
  • Train caregivers how to provide for the needs of a patient during and after therapy.
  • Recommend changes in patients' work or living environments, consistent with their needs and capabilities.
  • Develop and participate in health promotion programs, group activities, or discussions to promote client health, facilitate social adjustment, alleviate stress, and prevent physical or mental disability.
  • Consult with rehabilitation team to select activity programs and coordinate occupational therapy with other therapeutic activities.
  • Plan and implement programs and social activities to help patients learn work and school skills and adjust to handicaps.
  • Design and create, or requisition, special supplies and equipment, such as splints, braces and computer-aided adaptive equipment.
  • Conduct research in occupational therapy.
  • Provide training and supervision in therapy techniques and objectives for students and nurses and other medical staff.
  • Help clients improve decision making, abstract reasoning, memory, sequencing, coordination and perceptual skills, using computer programs.
  • Advise on health risks in the workplace and on health-related transition to retirement.
  • Lay out materials such as puzzles, scissors and eating utensils for use in therapy, and clean and repair these tools after therapy sessions.
  • Provide patients with assistance in locating and holding jobs.

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