Focusing On Occupation In The Treatment Plan

ot-with-clientYou have probably realized by now that occupational therapy has a focus on “occupations” and this is true. First let’s look at why it has the term “occupation” in it. Occupation can actually have several meanings in everyday life. Most people will first think of career choices or their job when they hear the term but it also refers to the process of doing (or occupying) a certain activity. For the purpose of treating individuals with specific pre-determined goals this is the definition that matters.

Occupational therapists (OT) and their assistants (COTA) strive to help people with certain handicaps or disabilities in a variety of physical, emotional, developmental, cognitive, and social capacities to achieve maximum independence so they can function in their daily lives. This involves teaching, or re-teaching in certain cases, the essential skills for self sufficiency at work, school, home, and in expected public situations. Having concern for the individual is of complete importance for success in this profession.
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How A Child Can Benefit From Occupational Therapy

OT with childAn occupational therapist (OT) is a medical professional who is specially trained to work with patients who have one or multiple conditions that limit their independent function and hinder their ability to complete the most basic daily tasks. The individuals could be from any age group, ranging from toddlers right on up to senior citizens. When it comes to dealing with children the pediatric OT can help with a variety of treatments to help them with their physical and motor skills, social interaction with others, and many basic self care tasks like feeding and bathing. This could take place in the home, school, community, as well as the office. A main goal of any treatment plan will be to help with independence and to improve the child’s self esteem and overall confidence in their everyday activities.

The main perception of occupational therapy is that it will benefit an adult who has either been in an accident, has a debilitating condition, was born with a disability or handicap, or has started to experience the effects of aging on the body. While this is a large part of what a therapist does, pediatrics has grown into a major area of practice in the industry. According to AOTA there are even success stories for helping those children who are on the autism spectrum. A kid’s drive to learn and play with toys can be harnessed by the therapist as they devise the best occupations (or activities) that can help them improve on their weaknesses.
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Equipment And Techniques Occupational Therapists Use

OT EquipmentThe occupational therapist (OT) works with patients who can have any combination of mental, developmental, physical, or emotional disabilities. The patient can be permanently or temporarily disabled, suffering from a traumatic injury or being afflicted for their entire life. The goal is to help these individuals develop the necessary skills to lead independent and productive lives. Overall success is achieved using the process of initial screening with multiple parties (including family members), evaluation, development of a treatment plan, and the execution of this plan using a variety of activities or occupations. The patient becomes an active part of the plan to hopefully bring about the desired results.

A certified occupational therapy assistant (COTA) will often become an integral part of this plan and will be responsible for many of the ‘hands on’ activities. These may involve work, play, games, exercise, and crafts, with or without the use of various pieces of equipment. A lot of times when rehab is involved adaptations to common everyday products like brushes, pencils, and eating utensils will be implemented in one of the steps. If necessary the product may be modified to accommodate the patient’s use. This is simple example of adaptive therapy but there are examples of much more complex treatments.
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Should You Consider Traveling As A Career Option?

OT on the roadAn occupational therapist is certainly in high demand these days. Their services are required on patients of just about any age for a variety of conditions, sometimes including serious injuries. While rehabilitation is a big part of the treatment program an OT is specially trained to handle many other jobs. These include autism, depression, chronic disease management, Alzheimers, reduced vision, and much more. It is this versatility that leads to a high demand for those therapists who are willing to travel for short to medium term assignments.

The majority of medical facilities don’t have the professional staff on-hand to handle every situation that requires some form of therapy. They will instead opt for an occupational therapist who is willing to travel to their facility, sometimes from a different state or country. These positions can be as short as a few weeks or as long as a year, it really depends on the needs of the patient. Obviously this type of assignment isn’t for everyone but it does make sense for those OT’s who don’t have a family with children at home and enjoy getting away to see different areas of the country. As with any career option there are some pros and cons to weigh.
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Treatment Protocols In A Rehabilitation Center

Rehab with a patientIf there is one thing that can be certain about society today, it’s that there will always be a need for rehabilitative services for a variety of physical and emotional disorders. A large number of rehabilitation centers exist all over the United States and that number has been steadily increasing over the last two decades. This is mainly due to the favorable legislative conditions in the laws written by the government as well as the great work done by nonprofit agencies that own these centers. While you will see some “for profit” companies operating them, the typical rehab center is not represented by this.

Since rehabilitation can encompass a large number of treatments for many different health conditions, there are many different professionals employed there. These can include the occupational therapist (OT), physical therapist, doctor, nurse, social worker, psychiatrist, and more. These medical professionals will all participate in the treatment program, coordinating the many protocols with each other, and working closely with family members. The general philosophy of occupational therapy matches up well with what a typical rehab center will promote, which is restoring as much of the physical and social functionality as possible so the patient can function with their daily activities.
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Finding An Occupational Therapist Assistant School

Once you have decided to pursue a career as an occupational therapy assistant then your next step will be to find the right program in the right school for your needs. There are many excellent accredited programs out there in just about every state in the country. It is important to find one that is accredited by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA™) so once you graduate you are eligible to sit for the nationally recognized certification. Accreditation is only awarded to colleges who have completed a number of required steps by AOTA™, and this status is reviewed on a regular basis. You can be certain that any college who has this follows all of the latest standards for education. A complete list of certified schools can be found here, and we have also listed a few of the most popular choices below.

One thing you will notice when looking into the different colleges is there are different levels of accreditation. Some are fully accredited while others are in the developing stages. ‘Developing’ means they have not yet reached their full status but have completed at least the first of the three required steps in the process. If your potential school is in the developing status you should first talk to the head of the OT program to see what their plans are for meeting the requirements. This is important because not every ‘Developing’ institution will be awarded ‘Accreditation’ status but the vast majority of them do. AOTA™ shows both classifications in their list.
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