The Role of an Occupational Therapist


July 15th, 2009

Occupational therapists assist patients in their efforts and abilities to perform tasks in their living and working environments. They work with rehabilitation efforts and treatments to develop, recover, or correct the skills of their patients. Often occupational therapists work with patients that suffer from mental, physical, or emotional conditions that disable them in some way. The work occupational therapists do improves the motor functions and abilities of their clients, and teaches them to compensate for the loss of certain functions and abilities. The role of an occupational therapist is very important to patients who need to re-learn basic skills to lead independent and productive lives.

Occupational therapists are concerned with helping patients perform activities that a person needs to do to be able to care for themselves. Occupational therapists work with patients whose movement and functions ability have been lost or changed by strokes or illnesses. Common activities that are taught or re-taught to patients include getting dressed, eating, brushing their hair, cooking, typing, and lifting objects. They work with patients by using physical exercises to help with hand-eye coordination, depth perception, short-term memory loss, problem solving, and memory skills, depending on their disabilities. Occupational therapists may work solely with a particular group or disability such as those that work with children, the elderly, or mentally ill patients.

Occupational therapists generally work in rooms or areas equipped with machines and tools to help them in their efforts with their patients. Some may also work in private practices, nursing care facilities, and home health services, while others may work for more than one employer or at several different locations or facilities at a time. Occupational therapists need to be very patient, as some clients do not show immediate signs of improvement or become frustrated. They also need to be creative, helpful and able to modify activities to fit the needs and abilities of their patients. Occupational therapists work long hours on their feet and need to be able to assess and record a patient’s progress.

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