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Occupational Therapist

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).

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