Occupational therapists work in a large number of different workplace settings and industries, and they treat patients with many kinds of disabilities, impairments and other problems. It’s an extremely diverse career, and OT’s can potentially either remain broad in their treatment or focus in on different patient populations, disorders, recovery types or purposes, and so forth. So what kinds of conditions do occupational therapists actually treat?
First, it should be said that there’s actually no limit to this answer, and there’s no real incorrect way to answer the question. Occupational therapists, as mentioned above in the introduction, work with a huge array of different patients with assorted conditions, ailments, problems or needs. The limit of what conditions are treated by occupational therapy may only be the limit of your own creativity, or at least your own confidence or capabilities in treating certain things.
Moreover, if you work for an employer in a specifically defined setting, that would also limit what conditions you treat and what patients you work with. However, on its own, occupational therapy deals with just about any kind of physical, mental, emotional or developmental condition or problem, with the overarching goal of improving life for the patient, improving their independence and capabilities, and more.
So, there is not an easily defined list of conditions that occupational therapists treat. Still, there are many groupings of conditions that can be defined, or you can take a results-oriented approach, and consider different types of outcomes that can be achieved with occupational therapy intervention.
Starting with the latter, occupational therapists can work with patients to help them get up to speed in a schooling environment, to help adults or senior citizens learn specific job skills or capabilities to enter the workforce, help patients rehabilitate from traumatic injury or major surgery, help senior citizens gain more independence or adapt to new environments, help employees in a corporate setting, and much more. Individuals who have suffered a paralysis injury or another permanent, debilitating injury will need to learn new strategies for daily tasks ranging from eating to communicating, while a mentally challenged adult may need help learning better socialization and interaction skills. It’s just a few small examples of how you can think about occupational therapy and what these professionals do.
As already mentioned, occupational therapy can work with just about any emotional, developmental, mental or physical ailment. Depending on the condition and the patient, a problem such as a failing physical body may have to be adapted to, while a problem such as a lack of skill capability or a loss of motor skill functionality can lead to complete recovery or removing of the obstacle in question.
It’s hard to get a clear picture of the exact conditions that occupational therapists work with, because, in general, there are no limitations. Your preferences, capabilities or specialization may lead you down a very specific path, as may your employer or industry, but the best way to capture what occupational therapists treat is simply to say any or all physical, mental, developmental or emotional condition with the goal of improving life quality, independence and completeness.