What Does an Occupational Therapist Do?
Occupational therapists help patients—who have suffered paralysis or some other physical disability due to stroke, blindness or some other condition—learn or re-learn both job skills and the skills of everyday living, like dressing, eating, using the telephone, and keeping house. Specific tasks include:
- Selecting activities for individual therapy programs;
- Helping patients learn or re-learn daily routines such as dressing, eating and housekeeping;
- Designing special equipment such as feeding devices, clothing adaptations or splints to help patients to perform tasks;
- Helping patients with balance and coordination problems;
- Coordinating patient programs with other members of the treatment team;
- Evaluating patients’ progress, attitudes and behavior;
- Assisting patients in their adjustment to home and work activities;
- Supervising occupational therapy assistants and aides.
How Do I Become an Occupational Therapist?
Occupational therapists in Virginia must be licensed. Licensure requires a bachelor’s degree is occupational therapy or a post-baccalaureate certificate from an accredited program. Completion of 6 months of supervised fieldwork is also required. To obtain a license, applicants must pass the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy certificate examination. The American Occupational Therapy Association offers certification by examination in three specialty areas: Neurorehabilitation (BCN), Pediatrics (BCP), and Geriatrics (PCG).