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Many people ask what occupational therapy is. This is a lesser known element in the medical profession for those who have never worked in the medical profession or have not required the services of an occupational therapist. The therapist in the occupational capacity works with patients who have severe disabilities or injuries which prohibit the full functioning of their abilities to succeed in daily living. Most of the patients in occupational therapy are those who have mental disabilities or have sustained a traumatic head injury that prevents them from performing tasks that most people do every day to survive. Without the use of occupational therapy, these patients may never live on their own or even outside of a medical facility.
What is Occupational Therapy?
Occupational therapy is centered on the element of providing therapeutic means to patients who suffer from various disabilities. The means used by the occupational therapist can include simple tasks such as eating and drinking on their own with special utensils that promote that type of hand movement, or it can be a difficult task like walking properly. In this element, the occupational therapist may use the leg brace tool to help the patient be able to put all of his weight on his legs to allow him to stand and walk with little or no help.
This type of therapy is often geared toward the patient who has suffered a stroke or has been a victim of a serious head trauma. When the brain is damaged, it typically takes a toll on the way the victim moves and, in essence, lives his life. It is the goal of the occupational therapist to ensure that the patient recovers to a point that is beneficial to him and allows him to return to his full functional capacity, or as close to it as medically possible. The occupational therapist can choose to work with patients who have had a severe brain trauma, babies who have a developmental disability, or adults who have suffered a stroke or other condition of the brain.
The occupational therapist can work in a variety of venues including: hospitals, inpatient rehabilitation centers, and even schools. They may have a specialized set of skills that will provide them with the skills needed to perform their duties in the capacity in which they work. For instance, the occupational therapist who typically works with children should not be specialized to work with adults who have suffered strokes. Additionally, the one who is specialized in the brain injury field should not work with those with disabilities and mental disorders.
Occupational Therapy Training
Now that people are better aware of what occupational therapy entails, some will need to know what occupational therapy training is and how one can become qualified. This is a fairly simple process. The occupational therapist is required to have at least a four-year Bachelor’s degree in Occupational Therapy before he can become certified as an occupational therapist. Throughout the degree program, the occupational therapist will learn all of the key elements that are used throughout the occupational therapy field including therapeutic techniques and resources that will help him help his patients.
Like many degree programs today, the occupational therapy degree program can be completed in a convenient, online format. Through this format, the occupational therapist can participate in job shadows and internships in person at a local facility in their area while completing the coursework process of the training. This process of the bachelor’s degree should take about four years unless the student goes through an online college that offers an accelerated program which can knock up to six months off of the time spent on that degree. It is also important that the grades earned throughout the bachelor’s program remain above a “B” average to ensure both the success of the future career as well as being eligible for future degrees that are associated with the profession of the occupational therapist, like a graduate-level degree.
The graduate degree for the occupational therapist is typically earned through the master’s program. This program lasts about two years, although like the bachelor’s program, should you find an accredited, online college that offers the option of accelerated programs, the degree can be completed in about one and one-half years. This type of degree program allows for the future advancement as well as higher pay throughout the career of the occupational therapist.
What is occupational therapy and what makes one qualified to become one of these therapists depends on the type of patients the occupational therapist wants to help. If the occupational therapist wants to work in a field where he is helping children with disabilities, he should focus his studies on the pediatric element of the program; whereas, if he wants to help those with traumatic brain injuries, he should focus his studies on this aspect instead. Once the occupational therapist has gone through all of the required training, he is able to secure employment in virtually any type of establishment that he desires.