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Occupational Therapy Careers

written by: Victoria Trix•edited by: Diana Cooper•updated: 2/27/2009

There are several different types of occupational therapy careers available for those who wish to practice in this field that will be right for them.

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    Occupational Therapy Careers

    For those hoping to enter the medical field for the purpose of aiding patients in improving their ability to do the tasks needed in both their living and their working environments, there are many occupational therapy careers that can be very satisfying. Occupational therapy careers are instrumental in teaching individuals who suffer from a physical, mental, emotional, or developmental disability to develop, to recover or to maintain the tasks of daily living along with work skills if needed. While primarily intended to improve the disabling result of a medical condition, much of the occupational therapist's job may ultimately be to teach the patient to develop and use alternative skills to replace those lost by accidental or disabling conditions.

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    Occupational Therapy Careers with Children

    There are special opportunities for occupational therapy careers involving disabled children to teach them how to function while in a social or classroom setting with compensation for their particular disability. An occupational therapist will work with a child individually or with a group of children with similar impairments to teach them the skills that will be necessary to facilitate age appropriate independence and social acceptance.

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    Occupational Therapy Careers with the Elderly

    As the baby boomer generation ages, the need for additional staffing in a variety of occupational therapy careers is increasing rapidly. Occupational therapists will help the elderly lead independent lives for as long as possible, in addition to performing rehabilitative therapies to recover lost abilities due to age related conditions such as stroke.

    Many occupational therapists hold positions in nursing homes, where residents are evaluated and treated in a controlled environment before being released to the care of family or to live again independently. Among the evaluations and recommendations of the occupational therapist for the elderly patient will be aiding equipment for home use, special training to help prolong driving independence as long as possible, and resources for alternative transportation as well as assessment of the home environment to determine and correct any hazards that could contribute to slip and fall incident.

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    Occupational Therapy Careers with the Mentally Disabled

    In a treatment facility for the mentally disabled, there are opportunities for occupational therapy careers that focus on helping those with mental or emotional deficiencies to develop skills that will help them hold a job, or more appropriately function in the community. The skill set that the occupational therapist in these cases may engage will likely include simple tasks that make independence more attainable, such as time management, budgeting, shopping, personal hygiene, and the ability to use public transportation. While many occupational therapists will work with the permanently disabled, some will also have the opportunity to rehabilitate those suffering from addictions.