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Doctor of Occupational Therapy | Dr. Ben Herz, Program Director

Doctor of Occupational Therapy | Dr. Ben Herz, Program Director

Dr. Ben Herz outlines the structure and benefits of the South University Doctor of Occupational Therapy program. Learn what makes South University's program different in this category.

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My name is Ben Herz, I am the program director of the Doctor of Occupational Therapy Program here at South University.

The program is actually designed for those people who already have an occupational therapy degree, both bachelors and masters. What we're doing is, we're concentrating more on the constructive critical thinking aspect, making sure that they're getting advanced knowledge using evidence based practices for that. Being able to support their area of practice, and look at the specialty area that they may be in, whether it's pediatrics or all through geriatrics, or even phycology.

There are two different tracks, the baccalaureate degree, of course, has a couple of courses that are gonna be prerequisite course that they would need to take before they come into the actual program. Masters can come in right away. I was one who went and got his doctorate after getting a degree, and it really brought me back to the nature of what occupational therapy is, and how to implement various different things into that. It just made me a better therapist, I think.

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About Occupational Therapy

Why South University?

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:

  • Training children in balance and coordination activities so they can fully participate in school activities.
  • Helping older adults recovering from a stroke to get dressed, bathe, and cook using only one hand.
  • Helping injured workers regain range of motion and muscle strength to re-enter the workforce.
  • Helping people with mental health impairments increase attention span and regain coping skills so they can fully participate in social situations.

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.

Occupational therapy practitioners use meaningful activities (occupations) to engage clients in activities of daily living (e.g., eating, bathing, dressing, hygiene). Occupational therapy practitioners are trained to modify the environment and train individuals to use assistive technology to attain functional independence. Occupational therapy practitioners also help clients regain range of motion, muscle strength, endurance, and coordination as they engage in activities that are meaningful to each client. The occupational therapy practitioner will educate and train a person with an upper limb amputation to use the prosthesis in activities of daily living.

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.

Where do OTA’s Practice?

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.