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What is occupational therapy?
Occupational therapy is a health profession that uses purposeful occupations with individuals whose lives have been disrupted by physical injury or illness, developmental or learning deficits, poverty and cultural differences, the aging process and/or mental challenges.
What does an occupational therapist do?
Occupational therapists work with clients to provide specialized assistance in learning functional skills that will maximize independent, productive and satisfying lives. Occupational therapists are members of the health care team who work with physicians, physical therapists, nurses, social workers, prosthetists and orthotists, vocational counselors, psychologists, speech pathologists and audiologists and other professionals.
The Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) works under the supervision of the Occupational Therapist (OT). Under the guidance of an OT, OTA's play an important role in carrying out treatment programs. They may choose or construct equipment that helps clients to function more independently, plan and carry our treatment occupations for individuals or groups of clients, and work closely with families as clients prepare to return home.
Which qualities or personal traits are useful in practicing occupational therapy?
Occupational therapists need patience, understanding and compassion when dealing with clients facing health problems. Patience is important because many clients may not show rapid progress and practitioners must be prepared for that challenge. Being understanding and having compassion is also vital when working with clients who have disabilities that require them to undergo extensive and sometimes painful treatment in order to improve their function. And finally, occupational therapy is a field that calls for a certain amount of passion for the beneficial and life-changing work that therapists perform.