An occupational therapist (OT) is a rehabilitation health care professional with either a Master’s or Doctoral degree in occupational therapy. An OT works with individuals who need assistance in learning skills to enable them to lead independent lives. Therapists can help patients in various aspects of daily life including dressing, cooking, using a computer and driving. This can include creating customized treatment programs, teaching patients to use adaptive equipment, conducting home and job site evaluations to recommend adaptations and treatment and aiding family members and other caregivers.
Many students have difficulty determining the difference between occupational therapy and physical therapy. Although both are types of rehabilitation medicine, they differ in many ways. Occupational therapists are focused more on teaching patients to work within their limitations and how to manage their health. Physical therapists work more with treating an injury and restoring function. In addition, OTs are more likely to work in rehabilitation centers with patients who have permanent disabilities while PTs are more likely to work in hospitals and clinics with patients who have more recent injuries. Although these are the general differences, there are areas of overlap between the two fields and they often work together in the interest of the patient. Below are links to a variety of different sources of information for students interested in pursuing a Master’s of Doctoral degree in Occupational Therapy.