— OTPlan (@OTPlan) December 2, 2013
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December 01, 2013 at 06:04PM
The basic definition for an occupational therapist is one who assists a multitude of different people in finding independency or “normalcy” in their everyday lives. Many of these patients have some sort of illness or disorder that inhibits normal living. These people can range from children who were born with a disability to the elderly who are going through a difficult time with the loss of agility or mobility. Occupational therapists help people regain skills or learn new ones that will make their everyday lives easier.
The types of services occupational therapists offer include evaluations with the client and family to determine what goals would like to be met, creating an intervention and plan for helping the patient reach these goals, and ensure the goals are being work towards and met long term. Occupational therapists not only assist their patients firsthand but also monitor them long-term to ensure that success is being met.
Types of Occupational Therapy
During and after your education and schooling in the field of occupational therapy you will probably find that there are many settings in which you can work. The area you will work is dependent upon what type of patient you would like to work with and what unique skills they will require with therapy.
Once you have obtained your degree in occupational therapy you will be able to pursue which ever specialization you wish. These specializations may include pediatric, hand therapy, adult rehabilitation, vision rehabilitation, assisted living care and much more. New opportunities of work settings are opening up for occupational therapy every day.
Locations for Occupational Therapy
The location and area in which you practice occupational therapy really depends on what types of patients you are working with. Some therapists may work in one individual area or a number of them. These locations include schools, detention centers, clinics (public and independent), communities (city and rural), corporate areas and health centers. Some therapists may work entirely with other medical professionals at their locations.
Occupational Therapy for Children
Working as a pediatric occupational therapist is a rewarding job. There are an abundance of children who require the assistance of an occupational therapist to reach their true potential and independency in life. A child with congenital disease, injury or illness that has caused life-altering affects may benefit from occupational therapy services. Other children who require occupational therapy might have been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD, PDD, Autism, Cerebral palsy, or anxiety disorders.
Occupational therapists help children acquire and maintain the skills required to engage in everyday life. Finding creative and meaningful activities is an essential key in assisting those children to participate in self-care, school and social settings. Pediatric occupational therapists work closely with the child’s family, care givers, and educational team, in order to come up with the best therapy program and intervention strategies.
Occupational Therapy for Adult
The general population that is commonly seen by occupational therapists is adult of various ages. Adults who require occupational therapy may include those with disorders (developmental and psychological), illness or injuries, and finally, those who are going through a major life change or crisis.
Occupational therapists working with adults often help their clients become more independent and improve the way they function. Sometimes this requires the use of certain technology, assistive devices, or adjustments to the client’s environment. In some settings, such as rehab or hospitals, the occupational therapist role is to assist their client relearn the basic skills that might have been lost due to illness or injury. These skills may include, but are not limited to, eating, dressing, walking and mobility, communication, and the use of assisting devices. In other settings, such as mental health, occupational therapists may help their clients find strategies that will promote the engagement in meaningful activities, which in turn improve the quality of their life.
The help that adults require is highly dependent on the individual person. There will be occasions in which “normalcy” won’t be possible for certain adults. In the event of this situation it is important that occupational therapists help their client get to the highest level possible through the use of strategies that can be used within their limitations.
Occupational Therapy for the Elderly
Occupational therapy for elderly people is growing due to the baby boomer generation aging as well as technological advances allowing for longer lives. Many of the occupational therapists who specialize with the elderly are working with those who have age-related diseases and aliments or may have suffered from heart attacks and strokes.
Those who have suffered from a recent stroke or heart attack may have a difficult time adjusting to their now limited abilities and independence. In extreme cases these people may have to essentially relearn daily life tasks from scratch. Other elderly people may be suffering from debilitating disorders and diseases such as arthritis. Learning to use assistive devices due to lose of agility and balance is another area that the elderly may need help with.
Occupational therapy is a profession that deals with health and rehabilitation. These therapists work with a wide range of different people and assist in helping them achieve independence and boost productivity. Occupational therapists work with people of all ages to help with their physical, emotional, and social problems. The “occupation” used by these therapists include work and play, as well as self-care, to aid their clients.
Occupational therapy will help those struggling to achieve their goals of independence, prevent disability, and enhance their overall development and well-being. Needless to say, occupational therapy is a widely popular and important skill. If you’ve always wished to help those around you and are interested in new techniques in assisting others, occupational therapy may be for you.
Occupational Therapy vs. Physical Therapy
Many people may be confused as to the difference between occupational therapy and physical therapy. The requirements needed in order to obtain a degree in occupational therapy are different than those needed for physical therapy. However, both professions use similar therapy techniques on occasion but their goals are quite different.
Physical therapy is essentially all about helping someone regain physical mobility, including strength, balance and flexibility to name a few. Physical therapists work with people to improve their posture, regain strength after an accident or surgery, as well as help those who may have been born with a defect.
Occupational therapists help those with illness or a disability to learn how to take care of themselves and participate in meaningful activities. These activities may be driving, eating by themselves and even working. In addition to helping their clients re-engage in meaningful activities, occupational therapists work with the environment around their clients to ensure the person can have an easier time performing tasks that are important to them. One big difference between physical therapists and occupational therapists is that occupational therapy requires training with people who have mental or emotional disorders and illnesses.
Occupational Therapy as a Career
Occupational therapy is a wonderful career choice. Occupational therapists work within a wide variety of settings and areas. These locations may include, but not be limited to, hospitals, schools, industry, community or private agencies, within homes, workplaces and outpatient clinics. As more people realize the profound benefits of occupational therapy, the locations in which it can be practiced grow.
The job outlook and salary is very decent for occupational therapists. Even after the job market contraction occupational therapy is still booming. According to studies the need for occupational therapists isn’t going to die down anytime in the near future. Salaries for occupational therapy have risen as well. The American Occupational Therapy Association survey on therapist salary averages the yearly salary as $40,000 within the United States. Interestingly enough, the actual average is slightly higher at around $47,000. Naturally regional differences will affect your salary.
Becoming an Occupational Therapist
It is important to note the requirements you need to be a certified occupational therapist. Understanding the job duties and specific qualifications is vital in ensuring occupational therapy is the right career for you.
Occupational therapists work with people who have been injured or disabled in some way that hinders their ability to live independently. These might be elderly people that want to be more active and independent or children who are struggling in school. Due to the nature of their work, occupational therapists work in a wide range of different areas.
In terms of educational requirements, occupational therapists must have at least a master’s degree. Their degree field must be in occupational therapy and they will need a state license to practice. Other important training to have includes CPR and BCLS. Personal skills to have includes excellence in communication and interactions with others and compassion as well as patience. Other useful skills include such things as writing.
Three Steps to Occupational Therapy Certification
Earning Your Bachelor’s Degree
Your first step in becoming certified to practice Occupational Therapy is to get your Bachelor’s degree. There are a few different choices for majors that will assist in becoming a certified occupational therapist. Some of these choices include anthropology, sociology, and psychology. You can choose a school that offers accelerated programs or even dual-degrees if possible. If you chose the right path you could obtain both your bachelor’s and master’s within only 5 years.
Earning Your Master’s
It takes roughly two years for a student to complete their Master’s degree after obtaining their Bachelor’s. Generally potential occupational therapists will spend their year earning their Master’s degree learning about anatomy, patient care, and assistive technology in their field and social/medical conditions. During this time fieldwork is essential. This fieldwork can take place in nursing homes, rehab centers, schools or even private practices. It usually takes about 24 weeks on average to complete these field experiences.
Getting Your License
After receiving your degrees it’s time for the final third step in becoming certified to practice occupational therapy: becoming licensed in your state. These state licenses are a strict requirement. In order to receive this license you must have:
* Graduated from an accredited occupational therapy program
* Have complete necessary fieldwork
* Passed the NBCOT exam
After all of these requirements have been documented and passed you will be granted the OTR or Occupational Therapist Registered Credential. The OTR is mandatory to receive your license but voluntary thereafter. Many therapists choose to maintain this certificate actively by continuing their education.
You should check your local state requirements before applying to an OT program. Your state might have specific requirements that you should complete prior to becoming an OT.
Children with autism almost always have medical conditions that cause or make the symptoms of autism worse. Treating those conditions makes the child healthier and when they are in less pain, they learn better, have less aggression, communicate, and learn coping skills among many other improvements. Some children even recover from autism through the use of biomedical treatments used alongside traditional therapies.
Thanks to increased recognition and diagnosis, more and more kids are receiving treatment for Sensory Processing Disorder. If you have a child in preschool or kindergarten, he might have classmates with SPD. Chances are, you’d never know by casually observing a child with SPD. Oftentimes, those closest to a child, such as parents and teachers, slowly become aware of a child’s sensory issues through various telling behaviors. If you see some of these behaviors, stay calm and bring your concerns to your family doctor.
It’s easy to confuse Sensory Processing Disorder for bad behavior. It’s important to understand that SPD meltdowns and sensitivities aren’t about a child being spoiled or being bad. Children with SPD experience the world in a unique way that can be distressing under the wrong circumstances. What you might perceive as a noisy grocery store crowd might make a child with SPD feel truly overwhelmed and unable to function and reason. The Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation advises parents to look out for difficulties that are chronic and disrupt everyday life. Pay attention to reactions to sounds, visual stimuli, smells, textures and temperatures, especially if those reactions interfere with everyday tasks like eating and playing.
Big emotional responses
SPD kids are often referred to as sensory seekers or sensory avoiders, but it’s common for kids to experience a spectrum of avoidance and sensory seeking. This can make life feel like an obstacle course, and not the fun kind.
One of the first things you might notice in a child with Sensory Processing Disorder is low frustration tolerance. Issues with sensory integration can lead to kids feeling emotionally frayed. Imagine how you feel after a long, over-stimulating day. Picture how you’d react to frustrations if you felt that way constantly.
When observing your child, pay attention to the things that set her off, and how big those reactions are. If she becomes easily frustrated and is quick to give up on tasks she can’t handle, talk to your pediatrician.
Difficulties with play
Kids with SPD often have trouble with motor skills and difficulties with basic tasks like getting dressed and potty training. Even skills that kids use for play, such as catching a ball or jumping, may be impaired.
Observe your child around other children at the playground. Does he navigate playground equipment the way other kids do? How are his skills with balance? Do you notice repetitive behaviors, such as spinning or crashing into things? Does he have trouble interacting with other children? These types of behaviors can be red flags for Sensory Processing Disorder. In infants and young toddlers, these symptoms can come across as extreme fussiness or difficulties eating and sleeping.
After the ninth annual School Game Playing Day, educators are embracing this method all over again, writes Damian Corless:
board games are an integral part of the teaching process …, helping the children learn English, maths and a range of life skills.
Math helps with problem solving skill development. When kids play Monopoly, they could be facing a situation where they are behind the other players and they want to get ahead. The child can start reasoning if buying a piece of property would help him get ahead or should he take a different action? he’ll need to count how far behind he is and how many steps forward he wants to be.
The ability to identify and name basic colors can be improved with board games.
“A lot of junior and senior infants don’t know their colours when they start school. A lot of children would have difficulty saying that’s red or that’s blue. They might have difficulty if you say to them: ‘Can you pick up the red counter?’
“Board games are good for developing matching skills, where a child learns to match pieces that are of a kind. They’re good for developing grouping skills. They’re good for learning how to predict outcomes. What are the chances of this or that outcome? That’s a valuable maths skill.
“When it comes to learning English, the children have to read and understand the rules of the games. As they play, they have to express their oral language because the games demand they communicate with the other players.
“For the very young children board games help with early literacy skills. The movement of the pieces on the board involves hand-to-eye co-ordination which helps in early literacy skills where hand-eye co-ordination is vital in turning pages, pointing to words and moving along step-by-step.”
Board games have many benefits from motor coordination, social skills, to emotional regulation. It does not require expensive equipment and can be enjoyable for adults and kids.