occupational therapist demonstrating the proper form with a dumbbellOccupational Therapy consists of the therapeutic use of everyday life activities with individuals, groups, or populations to address participation and function in roles and situations in the home, school, workplace, or community. An Occupational Therapist is a health care provider who treats patients with injuries, illnesses, or disabilities through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. They help these patients develop, recover, and improve the skills needed for daily living and working. According to the US Department of Labor, the employment of occupational therapists is projected to grow 27% from 2014 to 2024.

Please see The University of Alabama Occupational Therapy School Admissions Guide for prerequisites, timelines, and more.

What do Occupational Therapists Do?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, occupational therapists typically do the following:

  • Review patients’ medical history, ask the patients questions and observe them doing tasks
  • Evaluate a patient’s condition and needs
  • Develop a treatment plan for patients, identifying specific goals and the types of activities that will be used to help the patient work toward those goals
  • Help people with various disabilities with different tasks, such as teaching a stroke victim how to get dressed
  • Demonstrate exercises—for example, stretching the joints for arthritis relief—that can help relieve pain in people with chronic conditions
  • Evaluate a patient’s home or workplace and, on the basis of the patient’s health needs, identify potential improvements, such as labeling kitchen cabinets for an older person with poor memory
  • Educate a patient’s family and employer about how to accommodate and care for the patient
  • Recommend special equipment, such as wheelchairs and eating aids, and instruct patients on how to use that equipment
  • Assess and record patients’ activities and progress for patient evaluations, for billing, and for reporting to physicians and other healthcare providers

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