If you, or a loved one, have ever had an injury or have physical challenges, then you likely had several occupational therapy sessions. But have you ever wondered: “What does an occupational therapist do on a daily basis?” Well, we want to help you get a behind-the-scenes peek into a day in the life of an occupational therapist. We will consider some of an occupational therapist’s duties and what an occupational therapist’s typical day at work looks like. Let’s begin!
The Job Description of an Occupational Therapist
An occupational therapist treats people with injuries, disabilities, or developmental delays using several therapeutic daily activities. They evaluate, plan, organize, and conduct rehabilitative programs that seek to develop or restore important living skills, and improve general independence.
Being an Occupational Therapist: A Typical Day at Work
Let’s consider a few of the tasks that occupational therapists may undertake on any given day:
- Review patients’ medical histories, ask them questions, and observe them completing tasks.
- Evaluate and treat patients’ physical and mental abilities.
- Analyze medical data to discover realistic rehabilitation goals for patients.
- Develop treatment plans for patients’ by identifying activity types that will help patients reach their rehabilitation goals.
- Assist individuals with various disabilities to perform different tasks like dressing themselves.
- Recommend specialized equipment (like wheelchairs and eating aids) and help patients learn how to use them.
- Demonstrate exercises that can help patients relieve their chronic pain.
- Educate patients’ families and employers about how to accommodate them.
- Train caregivers in delivering quality care to their patients during and after therapy.
- Plan, organize, and conduct occupational therapy programs in hospital, institutional, or community living settings to assist persons with impairments due to illness, injury, psychological, or developmental problems.
- Choose activities that will help persons learn life-management and work-related skills within the limits of their mental and physical capabilities.
- Make recommendations about beneficial changes that should be made in the individuals’ living and work environments to generate improvements in health and wellbeing.
- Assess and record patients’ activities and progress. Complete and maintain patient evaluations for billing and reporting to physicians and other health professionals on each patient’s team.
Furthermore, an occupational therapist’s typical day at work also means:
- Daily telephone conversations with patients, caregivers, and other healthcare professionals.
- Having team meetings to design treatment plans and plan other related activities.
- Managing upset patients and caregivers.
- Making decisions each day related to patient care and other professional duties.
- Standing a lot especially while working with patients.
- Lifting and moving patients and/or heavy equipment.
- Moving from one healthcare facility to the next to carry out assignments.
The Specialized Roles of Occupational Therapists
We have explored some of the general tasks that occupational therapists complete. Now, let’s consider some of their specialized roles:
Assisting Patients With Permanent Disabilities
Some patients will not experience a complete recovery. For patients with permanent disabilities like cerebral palsy, they will need ongoing help to perform daily tasks. An occupational therapist will show these patients how to use appropriate adaptive equipment, like leg braces, wheelchairs, and eating aids. These devices help patients to perform several daily tasks and regain some degree of independence.
Working With Children in Educational Settings
Several occupational therapists provide therapeutic services to children within the school system. They assess children’s physical and cognitive abilities, modify classroom equipment to effectively accommodate children with disabilities, and help children participate in school activities. These occupational therapists may also provide early intervention therapy to infants and toddlers who either have or are at risk of having developmental delays.
Geriatric Occupational Therapy
Some occupational therapists help elderly patients live independently and actively. They evaluate each patient’s abilities and environment to make useful recommendations to improve their daily life. For example, an occupational therapist may help identify potential fall hazards in a patient’s home and recommend their remediation.
Assisting Employees at Work
Some occupational therapists help to design functional work environments. They evaluate the workspace and recommend modifications. In some instances, they will meet with a patient’s employer to collaborate on the essential modifications to that individual’s work environment or schedule.
Mental Health Interventions
Occupational therapists also serve in mental health institutions, where they assist patients who suffer from mental illnesses, emotional problems, and developmental disabilities. They teach patients vital skills such as time management, budgeting, navigating public transport, and completing household chores. These skills help patients to fully engage in and cope with daily life. Also, occupational therapists may assist individuals who have addiction problems like alcohol and substance abuse, as well as depression, and other disorders. They may also assist those who have experienced traumatic events like car accidents and violence. The goal is to help these individuals develop the skills to live meaningful and functional lives.
Working on a Healthcare Team
Occupational therapists are an important part of every healthcare team. They are employed in hospitals and work alongside doctors, registered nurses, physical therapists, speech and language therapists, and other medical professionals. These occupational therapists may assist patients with chronic conditions like diabetes or help rehabilitate patients recovering from major surgeries like hip replacements. Occupational therapists also oversee the work of occupational therapy assistants and aides.
Need an Occupational Therapist? Check Moving With Hope!
What does an occupational therapist do on a daily basis? Now you know! At Moving With Hope, we have a team of healthcare professionals, including expert occupational therapists, to help you and your loved ones. We will work with your medical team to design a holistic treatment plan that’s customized to suit your needs. We invite you to contact us today so that we can begin working together to help you achieve your wellness goals.