Occupational Therapy Practice Area: Work, Mental Health And Rehabilitation


The demand for occupational therapists has risen dramatically in the past years. A major reason for this is the increasing aging population. With the growing number of elderly, more occupational therapists are in need to help them regain some sort of independence despite the old age. However, this is not the only reason why occupational therapists are important in today’s world.

Occupational therapy is a broad field of medicine that encompasses different practice areas. These occupational practice areas aim to solve modern society problems that involve the health and wellness of individuals. If you are planning to pursue higher education, you can choose from the OT practice areas discussed below.

Work And Industry

Contrary to what many believe, occupational therapists do not just work in healthcare settings. They also work to improve the working condition and environment of individuals. Since people stay most of the day at the workplace, it must be safe and conducive. Occupational therapists help in identifying possible safety area problems and improve safety measures in the workplace.

Aging WorkforceThe first focus is the Aging Workforce.  The aging population has reached retirement age but not all of them want to retire right away. One of the reasons is that seniors still need money for the family. Another reason is that the seniors gain a sense of independence if they continue working. In the US, old work groups continue to rise and even 75-year-old seniors still want to work.

The ultimate problem is that the aging population will have more chances of making errors and mistakes that can be costly to the company. As the body is weaker and more sensitive, there are limited skills that a senior can do. There will be low vision, slower response, slower reaction, lesser dexterity and even poor hearing. While employers cannot just fire seniors from work, it is best that occupational therapists help in improving such situation. This emerging practice area enables occupational therapists to help employers improve the workplace by making it more ergonomic for the senior workers.

The other focus of this OT practice area is New Technology At Work. Technology is very important in the workplace since it can help in the efficient and fast completion of tasks and processes. Occupational therapy can help employers determine that right type of technology to be used within the workplace. This technology should be beneficial for the company yet will not pose any safety hazards to the employees using it. Further, occupational therapists will assist disabled employees to be able to work in highly advanced work settings.

Mental Health

The Mental Health practice area is being given a lot of attention today. More and more children are being born with mental disabilities and it does not go away when the child grows up. A mental disability affects the whole body, which means that the child will not be able to function properly for the rest of his or her life. Occupational therapists are working hard to help children with mental disabilities to assist them on how they can live a normal life. Moreover, occupational therapists are helping adults with mental problems too.

Depression is a mental health problem that affects 1 in 4 American adults. Depression can be due to an eating or bipolar disorder. Anti-depressants are advertised to be treatment for depression but this does is just temporary treatment. Occupational therapy digs deep and go to the roots of the problem. An occupational therapist will evaluate the causes of the depression and how the depression can be treated.

Recovery and Peer Support Model is about creating a support group for people with mental problems. Often, mental problems happen between the ages of 18 and 25. Occupational therapists believe that people in this age bracket will be better helped with a recovery and peer support group. Sharing experiences together will make them feel more supported and accepted. This helps in the recovery of people with mental problems.

Sensory Approaches to Mental Health is a new way to treat mentally ill patients. Back in the days, the mentally ill were restrained and secluded. Occupational therapists do not believe in these methods at all. In fact, seclusion and restrains lead to high death rates among patients that are mentally ill. Thus, occupational therapists are working on a new approach called sensory approach. They believe that this will be better in treating the mentally ill.

Veterans’ and Wounded Warriors’ Mental Health is an emerging area that is focused on ex-soldiers who are currently suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Soldiers are prone to this disorder due to their experience in fighting wars. Occupational therapists are helping these soldiers get pass the trauma and stress so they can continue living fulfilling lives.

Rehabilitation, Disability, and Participation

Occupational therapy is known for its holistic treatment approach. This occupational therapy practice area deals with the disability, its rehabilitation, and how to help patients participate in society after rehabilitation.

Autism In Adults is a growing concern in the US According to the American Psychiatric Association, there are 300,000 adults aged 22 years who are suffering from autism. Autistic adults need the same guidance as autistic children. Transitioning after high school will be very hard for them. Occupational therapists help these patients to gain independence so they can participate in society more.

Cancer Care and Oncology is focused on cancer patients that have survived the disease. These people will need maintenance and post-care treatments like palliative care and lymphedema therapy. Occupational therapists work with cancer patients to get their lives back. The cancer treatments can really take its toll physically, mentally and emotionally.

Hand Transplants And Bionic Limbs is focused on helping Americans have lost a limb or underwent amputation. With the technology today, hand transplants and bionic limbs can act as replacements to enable individuals to fully function again. Occupational therapists help patients in using these artificial limbs effectively.

New Technology for Rehab includes using applications and gadgets that help in the rehabilitation of disabled patients. Occupational therapists encourage patients to use smart phones that have a speech to text feature so patients can easily communicate with anyone they want to. Also, using the Nintendo Wii can help in rehabilitating physical disabilities.

Veteran and Wounded Warrior Care are about helping soldiers get the proper rehabilitation they need. Soldiers can suffer from physical, mental and emotional disorders. Sometimes, they may also have behavioral issues due to the trauma too.


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