At first glance, it’s easy to think that all occupational therapy jobs are the same. However, there is actually quite a lot of variation between roles within occupational therapy. In this article, we’ll have a look at a few of these different paths an occupational therapist can choose to specialise in.
Firstly, there is Gerontology. This is occupational therapy that is focused around the elderly. As we get older our bodies change and can’t necessarily deal with the same physical processes as well as they used to. Therefore, it’s important to learn methods and make adaptations to overcome this. Occupational therapy can help the elderly carry on being self-sufficient, meaning they can stay in their own home instead of moving to care homes. It can also help with specific diseases linked to old age, such as arthritis and various forms of dementia.
At the other end of the spectrum, there is pediatric occupational therapy. A child’s whole development is basically a way of learning lots of different occupations, such as crawling, walking, speaking, etc. Occupational therapists will often work with children who are having a harder time in developing some of these skills. For example, a large proportion of therapists will be aiding children with autism.
A large part of occupational therapy is physical rehabilitation. This will take place usually after a patient has had an accident, or other ways of receiving physical or mental damage that can be treated to return to normality, or something similar by utilising different aids. Often the therapy in these situations have to be tailored around the individual patients. As each patient’s injuries will be unique in some form or another, therefore the recovery process will need to be unique as well.
All of these different types of occupational therapy mentioned so far could have an element of environment modification to them. This involves seeing how a patient’s abilities have changed and seeing how modifications can be made to their specific environment to overcome this. This could be within their home, workplace, school, or even the community. A lot like physical rehabilitation, this environmental modification needs to be tailored around the patient themselves.
Of course, there are still a lot more occupational therapy roles than these mentioned. Yet, hopefully this has shown that there is more than just one type of occupational therapist. While we can see a common link between them all, that being how an occupational therapist is always trying to make changes in a way that makes patients themselves more independent and autonomous. This can obviously help on a practical side, but can also have a massive effect on wellbeing and mental health, as it helps empower those who may feel vulnerable.