What is occupational therapy

A specialty of health care that focuses on improving a person’s ability to function in the activities of daily living (ADLs) (formerly referred to as “occupations”) and other life tasks. Occupational therapy considers a person’s abilities, limitations, physical environment (home, work, and social) and their effects on typical or necessary tasks. An occupational therapist can help the person develop methods and techniques to accomplish needed tasks. For the person with Parkinson’s disease, there is a particular focus on preserving abilities for as long as possible but with an eye toward adapting to changing circumstances. This may include integration with physical therapy to maintain physical skills, functions, and environmental and behavioral approaches to combat gait freezing; activities to support cognitive function; assessment of visual function and strategies to improve performance in vision-based skills such as driving; and help in learning to use adaptive equipment AND ASSIST DEVICES to extend INDEPENDENCE.

In the United States, there are two levels of occupational therapy practitioners, the certified occupational therapy assistant (COTA) and the registered occupational therapist (OTR). The COTA is a technical practitioner who completes an accredited two-year program and passes a national certification examination. An occupational therapist completes an accredited four-year undergraduate program and passes a national certification examination to earn the professional designation of occupational therapist, registered. There are also postgraduate programs in occupational therapy that award master’s or doctoral degrees for additional study. All states require both levels of practitioner to be licensed and to complete continuing education courses to remain current in practice standards.

Occupational therapy services require a physician’s referral or prescription that specifies the kinds of services the person needs. The occupational therapist completes an assessment of the person’s status and can make other recommendations, which must be approved by the physician. Occupational therapy can be provided on an inpa-tient basis for people who are hospitalized but is most often an outpatient service. Private medical insurance, medicare, and medicaid programs typically provide benefits for occupational therapy services.