Occupational Therapy Types and Specializations

Occupational therapy is one of those health care courses in which students learn to look after those people who can not perform their routine tasks due to some disability.

If you are considering to pursue a career as an occupational therapist, then you should devote some of your time to decide which specialization will suit you the best. There are different types of occupational therapies which are categorized according to the age and type of disability. Let’s discuss all the fields of OT in detail.

1. Occupational Therapy in Orthopedics

This occupational therapy specialization deals with the condition of injury. The professionals assess the abilities that the patients had before trauma and work in the direction of regaining their energy and capabilities after surgery. The patients with traumatic injuries, upper or lower limb fractures, musculoskeletal and other tissue-related conditions, and people who are undergoing surgeries like a knee replacement, hip replacement, etc., can be benefited by them. Other basic tasks of these health care providers are- to assist the patients to use mobility supports; wheelchair, day to day activities, help them participate in recreational activities, and more.

2. Occupational Therapy in Geriatrics

The role of an occupational therapist who specializes in geriatrics is to assist old age people to get their lost life skills back and promote their self-reliance so that they can lead an independent life. These therapists also help them improve their motor skills, educate them, and teach different types of exercises to aid the process of healing. They also help the seniors in feeding, dressing, participation in social activities, home management, and prevent environmental hazards to prevent falls.

This field of OT has various sub-branches including Occupation Therapy for the Elderly/Seniors and Occupational Therapy in Productive Aging.

3. Occupational Therapy in Neurology

People suffering from neurological conditions like stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, etc., require special care and support. The therapists, who specialize in Neurology, work to prevent deterioration caused due to disorders like muscular dystrophy, works in the direction to determine the perfect position of sitting and lying to prevent injuries, etc.

The main role of these therapists is to minimize the effect of the neurological conditions and make the life better for the patients. For the purpose, these health care providers are trained to administer therapies like aquatic therapy, visual perception techniques, energy conservation, body mechanics, biofeedback, etc.

4. Occupational Therapy in Psychiatry

There is a very thin line between psychiatry and neurology. The occupational therapies for behavioral health or psychiatry provide training to the patients so that they can accomplish day to day activities like grooming, hygiene, home management, etc. Other roles include evaluating the environment at home, work, school, and several other settings; helping the patients with stress management, develop interpersonal skills, etc. Apart from these, the therapist works in the direction to improve the overall condition of the patient so that s/he can lead a normal life. They can work in correctional facilities, psychosocial clubhouses, homes, senior centers, community mental health centers, after-school programs, homeless and women’s shelters, etc.

5. Occupational Therapy in Critical Care

The therapist of this area works with the patients who are suffering from serious medical conditions like head trauma, emphysema, stroke, etc. The first and the foremost duty of these professionals is to assess the threats to the life of the patients, loss of functions if any, and stabilize the medical status.

The therapist of this field is responsible for assisting the families and caregivers, taking measures to design and determine eating safety, providing diet guidelines, develop plans for recovery pre and post hospitalization, etc. They also aid the patients in motion exercises and positioning the devices meant for preserving the integrity of joints and muscles.

6. Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics

Students who specialize in this field of occupational therapy learn to develop cognitive and adaptive skills. They design different plans to help kids participate in various environment and settings like school, home, etc., and interact with other children. Pediatric Occupational Therapists are also responsible for training the families so that they can aid the development and skill acquisition process of the child. They also look after the disabilities in newborn babies and work to cure and further prevent them. Other areas where these health care providers can work include psychiatric and neurological conditions of the child such as cerebral palsy, autism, and more.

7. Hand Occupational Therapy

Hand therapists are those medical professionals whose work is to manage the extremity conditions by providing preventative care, non-operative intervention, and post-surgical rehabilitation. Hand occupational therapists are responsible for using various tools and techniques for speedy recovery of the patients. They prepare plans for managing swelling, pain, wounds, etc. Besides this, these professionals also teach various exercises and activities to aid the healing process. They basically treat the patients with arthritis, carpel tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, etc. Hand therapies for children include handwriting improvement techniques, determining proper posture, the level of endurance, motor control, physical health, etc.

8. Vision Occupational Therapy

Vision occupational therapists are the professionals who work in order to improve eye-related issues and reduce the level of discomfort caused due to strain in eyes. The therapist treats the patients with poor tracking abilities due to which they have extreme movement of the head while reading, confuse words with one another, poor reading comprehension, etc. These experts look after the entire visual system of the body, including eyes and brain. The primary goal is to make it possible for the patients to use the brain effectively so that they can use the eyes to comprehend the information and react to it. These professionals can also help children with learning-related vision problems.

9. Occupational Therapy in Cardio-Respiratory Conditions

These experts are responsible for assisting patients with respiratory disorders, conducting various tests, providing treatments, etc. They also make plans to improve the lung function of the patients and train their caregivers and family members on how to use aerosol inhalants, chest physiotherapy, use of oxygen, etc. These therapists are well-versed in using ventilators, diagnostic equipment, life support systems, etc. Besides this, they also look after the day-to-day activities of the patient and train them so that they can lead a normal life.

10. Occupational Therapy in Ergonomics

Ergonomics deals with designing an environment that fits the capabilities of the worker. The environment must be such that it suits the cognitive, physiological, and psychological abilities of the workers. These practitioners are basically required to prevent work-related injuries. The job of these experts is to make a varied environment and provide advice such as to change the broken or an old chair, minimize auditory distractions, help a worker in organizing tasks, change lighting conditions, etc. They also look after the tools and equipment and modify them to prevent injuries, and analyze the job functions based on the job.

11. Occupational Therapy in Driving Rehabilitation

This is the field of the therapy where the therapists help individuals to remain independent and mobile. The therapists also look after the needs of senior drivers. These experts analyze the task and identify the appropriate match of activities for obtaining the desired outcome. These professionals are responsible for using a kit containing tools that are presented in a range of format in such a way that they can be used and modified according to individual’s program or environment settings.