South University, Virginia Beach (View Other Campuses)
Occupational Therapy (OT) is a profession that promotes the health and well-being of people across their lifespan. Occupational therapy assistants work with people who have physical, psychological, or developmental conditions to help them gain or regain skills lost due to injury or illness. Occupational therapy practitioners work with people of all ages to regain or accommodate the loss of motion, strength, coordination, sensation, perception, cognition, or balance.
Occupational therapy practitioners ‘treat the whole person’ to help individuals perform meaningful and purposeful daily activities (occupations) that promote independence during leisure or at home, school, or work. Occupational therapy practitioners work closely with each individual to identify what is most important to him or her and enhance quality of life.
The registered occupational therapist (OTR) evaluates the client and develops a plan of care. The certified occupational therapy assistant (COTA) works under the supervision of the occupational therapist to implement the plan of care. The plan of care can be as simple as helping someone learn how to tie his or her shoes or as complex as helping someone regain movement, strength, and coordination on one side of the body.
Other examples of occupational therapy interventions include:
The ultimate goal is to improve clients’ quality of life and their ability to perform daily activities as independently as possible.
Occupational therapy interventions also focus on adapting the environment, modifying the task, and teaching people skills. Occupational therapy services may include conducting comprehensive evaluations of the client’s home and other environments (e.g., work, school) or making recommendations for adaptive equipment and training in its use. Occupational therapy practitioners provide education and training to clients, family members, and caregivers. Occupational therapy practitioners are an integral part of the therapy team.
Physical therapy practitioners are trained to help clients regain range of motion, muscle strength, and the ability to transfer from one position or surface to another (e.g., bed to chair, standing to sitting). Physical therapy practitioners also train clients in mobility, such as navigating with assists like canes, crutches, walkers, and wheelchairs. The physical therapy practitioner also applies modalities like ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and diathermy. The physical therapy practitioner will train a person with a lower limb amputation to walk using a prosthesis.
The occupational therapy and physical therapy practitioner work closely together to help the client become as independent as possible in his or her daily activities, including work, play, and leisure.
Areas of practice include pediatrics, mental health, physical disabilities, and geriatrics, working with people who have cancer, cardiopulmonary, metabolic, musculoskeletal, neurologic, neuromuscular, orthopedic, sensory conditions, and more.
Practice settings include but are not limited to acute care hospitals, rehabilitation centers, assisted living facilities, skilled nursing facilities, outpatient clinics, home health agencies, public and private school systems, and private practice.