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  • What do Occupational Therapists do?

    Author: HealthTimes

An occupational therapist is an Allied Health professional who can help people enhance their lives by helping them to improve their every day motor skills in order to do tasks that able bodied people take for granted.  For example, if a person is injured and unable to tie their shoelaces, an occupational therapist will devise a different way for the patient to tie their shoelaces, thereby helping the patient to become independent and self-reliant.

An occupational therapist can also give a patient motor function exercises to help them improve their motor skills, and can devise ways to help patients with attention deficit problems.

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The three occupations in a person’s life are leisure, work and self care.  An occupational therapist assesses the balance of those three occupations in their patient’s life

and identifies tasks that could lead to injury and shows the patient a better way of performing those tasks, so as to avoid injury.

For instance, if an occupational therapist was employed by a company, they may discover that the workers are lifting boxes incorrectly.  The occupational therapist would show the workers how to lift the boxes correctly so as to avoid injury and monitor the situation to make sure that the workers don’t slip back into their old habits and risk injury.

An occupational therapist can work in a hospital, nursing home, school, company, private practice or provide home health care.  They assess and diagnose patients and then come up with a treatment for each patient, such as a different way to partake in a favourite hobby, special exercises to do each day to help with their motor skills or recommend special equipment to make the patient’s life easier, as in the case of elderly patients.

For example, an elderly person may need special equipment such as a shower rail or easy to use kitchen equipment in order to remain as independent as possible.

An occupational therapist can specialise in paediatrics, hand therapy, mental health, rehabilitation or work rehabilitation.

You might be interested in physiotherapy as a career.  If so click here to learn how to become a physiotherapist.

How do you become an occupational therapist?

First of all, you need to complete an undergraduate degree at university.  Currently, you can study at a university in New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria, Queensland or Western Australia.

Usually the relevant course is called the Bachelor of Occupational Science, but depending on the university you attend, it may be called the Bachelor of Science OT Honours and is generally a four year course.

If you have already completed an undergraduate degree in a different field, you may be able to undertake a two year post graduate degree in occupational therapy and be eligible to work as an occupational therapist, depending on your undergraduate degree.

Once you are eligible to work as an occupational therapist, you need to register with the Occupational Therapists Registration Board in the state you wish to work in.

If you enjoy helping a wide range of people and solving problems, then you may find that a career as an occupational therapist will be a very rewarding and interesting one


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