therapists will be among the fastest-growing occupations as rapid
growth in the number of middle-aged and elderly individuals increases
the demand for therapeutic services. Additional demand will result
from medical advances that allow more patients with critical problems
to survive and thus require intensive rehabilitation.
Occupational therapy (OT) is a health and rehabilitation
profession that strives to maximize individuals' independence in
the daily occupations they pursue. OT teaches clients skills for
daily living and provides specialized assistance, enabling them
to lead independent, productive and satisfying lives.
Kim Eberhardt, MS, OTR/L is a senior occupational
therapist at Boston Medical Center. As an OT, she treats a variety
of people with many different types of disabilities. She assesses
clients' needs and formulates an individualized treatment program.
She then instructs her clients on how to implement the programs
to maximize functional independence.
Some examples of services include:
- Improving abilities to perform activities
of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, eating, transferring
to tub and toilet, and desk skills.
- Comprehensive evaluation of home and job environments
and recommendations for necessary adaptations.
- Assessments and treatment for work performance
- Recommendations and training in the use of
adaptive equipment, such as an elevated toilet seat or a specialized
computer mouse (head or voice activated, rather than hand-controlled)
to replace lost function.
- Instructions to family members and attendants
in safe and effective methods of caring for individuals.
There are many more services than those
People who benefit from OT might include,
among others, those who have suffered a stroke or heart attack.
These clients would learn compensation strategies for lost function,
such as one-handed activities for a person who sustained a stroke,
or energy efficiency techniques for conserving energy during daily
activities for an individual with a heart condition.
People who have sustained traumatic injuries
to the spinal cord or brain would benefit from OT by learning
to perform activities using adaptive devices or other assistive
technology. In addition, functional cognitive retraining may be
used for people with cognitive deficits.
Those with industrial or work-related injuries
may learn about adaptations for the work environment or adaptive
methods of performing tasks in order to be able to return to the
same or similar occupation.
People with mental health problems, substance
abuse problems or eating disorders would be assisted to optimum
performance through adaptive coping strategies and educational resources.
People with arthritis, multiple sclerosis and
other chronic illnesses would learn simplification and conservation
strategies to maximize their independence in daily living activities.
There are several types of functional problems that can be remedied
through occupational therapy, and it is a rapidly expanding field
in terms of new technological innovations.
Ms. Eberhardt has a master's degree in occupational
therapy and a bachelor's degree in psychology. She is certified
in the Assessment of Motor and Process Skills (AMPS) and the Functional
Independence Measurement (FIM).
To learn more about an education in OT and certification
requirements, contact the American Occupational Therapy Association,
Inc. (AOTA) at 4720 Montgomery Lane, Bethesda MD 20814-3425, (301)
652-2682, fax (301) 652-7711, http://www.aota.org.
Licensing requirements are specific to each state. The AOTA also
can provide information regarding state regulatory boards and licensure.