Think of the simple activities you do each day from taking a shower, to making the morning coffee or even dressing yourself. Now imagine suffering an injury or illness that makes those simple tasks virtually impossible.
Your recovery will probably include working with an Occupational Therapist to regain the skills we need and the independence that we all take for granted.
Whereas a Physical Therapist (PT) will help you regain strength and mobility so that you are able to resume walking, reaching, standing and other physical activities, an Occupational Therapist (OT) will help you to improve your ability to perform those simple daily activities that can allow you to live alone and take care of yourself.
Also, according to the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), in addition to dealing with someone's physical well-being, OT practitioners address psychological, social, and environmental factors that can affect functioning in different ways. Think of someone who has suffered a stroke. Regaining certain skills can take a very long time and OTs will help individuals process through the frustration and anger that may come as during the recovery or helping people cope with limitations that are now permanent.
Occupational Therapy for Kids
While you may think that kids don't need Occupational Therapy because they don't work, think again. Children need to jump, run and play with others. Children also need to learn. They need to go to school and pay attention and comprehend.
OTs can help kids who have suffered injury or illness improve their motor skills or cognitive and physical abilities which go a long way in helping them improve their self-esteem and confidence.
Occupational Therapists can also help children learn how to deal with behavioral disorders including anger management issues. They can teach techniques to channel their anger in ways other than acting out or hitting. These techniques can include writing down their feelings or breathing exercises that help calm them during moments of stress.
Occupational Therapists are Part of a Team
Occupational therapists typically function as part of a healthcare team. For example, a surgeon will operate to repair a shoulder; a physical therapist will work with a patient to develop a series of exercises to help the shoulder heal properly in order to regain a full range of motion; and an occupational therapist will ask questions about what you do with your shoulder. If you're a delivery person who needs to repeatedly lift heavy packages, the OT will help develop ways to ensure there is no further injury to the shoulder and to develop safer lifting techniques. The goal of the OT is to help others recover skills that contribute to living a full and independent life.
Have You Considered Being an Occupational Therapist?
There is currently a shortage of Occupational Therapists so the job outlook is great. According to CNNMoney/Payscale.com’s list of great careers, OT’s rank #10 of the top 100 careers with high job satisfaction.
According to the survey question What Makes it Great? OTs can help people and develop strong relationships with clients without the rigmarole of becoming a doctor. OTs can work a flexible or part-time schedule and still earn decent money.
In fact, the median pay for an OT is $74,900 with a predicted 10 year job growth of 33.5%. If you are considering a career as an OT, visit the American Occupational Therapy Association webssite for more information.
The fact is, that there may come a time when you or a member of your family needs an occupational therapist. It's good to know their role in your recovery and the best way to maximize the time spent together so that you can take full advantage of the important work that you do together.
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