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Health Occupation Education Career Specialty Module Welcome to a career in occupational therapy. Beth P. Velde Ph.D., OTR/l Associate Professor Department of Occupational Therapy East Carolina University. Sponsored by Eastern Area Health Education Center. In collaboration with

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Health Occupation Education Career Specialty Module Welcome to a career in occupational therapy

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health occupation education career specialty module welcome to a career in occupational therapy
Health Occupation EducationCareer Specialty ModuleWelcome to a career in occupational therapy

Beth P. Velde Ph.D., OTR/lAssociate ProfessorDepartment of Occupational TherapyEast Carolina University


Sponsored by Eastern Area Health Education Center

In collaboration with

Office of Generalist Programs at

East Carolina University Brody School of Medicine


The North Carolina Department of

Public Instruction

what is occupational therapy
What is occupational therapy?
  • “The use of purposeful activities or interventions to achieve functional outcomes.”
  • AOTA (1993)
ten ways to define occupational therapy
Ten Ways to Define Occupational Therapy
  • 1. Occupational therapy is working collaboratively with people to facilitate independence and wellness in an individual's life.
  • 2. Occupational therapy is a "client-centered" approach to achieve everyday health through functional activities.
  • 3. Occupational therapy assists people of all ages with disabilities to become independent in their daily activities.
  • 4. Occupational therapy promotes health and well-being of individuals in society through participation in meaningful occupation.
  • 5. Occupational therapy is the promotion of lifelong health and well-being to facilitate productive living.
  • 6. Occupational therapy means improving the quality of life by positively affecting everyday activities.
  • 7. Occupational therapy practitioners help individuals develop skills necessary to perform daily activities.
  • 8. Occupational therapy provides the tools to break down barriers to an individual's independence.
  • 9. Occupational therapy provides you with a balance of independence at home, at work, and at play.
  • 10. Occupational therapy teaches "skills for the job of living.”
two key words in occupational therapy
Occupation: activities of everyday life that are named, organized, and given value and meaning by an individual and a culture. Everything a person does to occupy him/her self.

Law, Polatajko, Baptiste & Townsend (1997).

Activity--a universally recognized phenomenon that involves materials, form and structure, action processes, real and symbolic meaning.

Velde & Fidler, 2002

Two key words in occupational therapy.
the difference between occupation and activity
The difference between occupation and activity.
  • Think of the activity riding a bicycle. You should picture a two wheeled vehicle that is operated by pushing your feet in a reciprocating motion on a set of peddles. That is an activity. Now, put yourself on the bicycle. You will see a specific bike, with a seat to accommodate your size. It might be a mountain bike. You see yourself riding it down the path at a state park. That is an occupation!
outcomes of occupational therapy interventions
Outcomes of occupational therapy interventions.
  • Adaptation
  • Occupational Performance
  • Role Competence
  • Health and wellness
  • Quality of life
  • Life satisfaction
  • Prevention
The change you make in your response to an occupational challenge when your usual response does not work.

Imagine that you have broken your right hand and you are right handed. Your favorite activity is surfing the internet. Adaptation describes what you would do to continue surfing the net by using the computer keyboard with your left hand.

occupational performance
Occupational Performance
  • The ability to do the occupations you want to do. This ability includes your skills and having the proper environmental supports. Those environmental supports include equipment and materials, money, a space, and others to play with.
role competence
Role competence
  • Roles include occupational roles such as racquetball player and lifelong roles such as mother, brother, cousin, and husband. To be competent in these roles you need to know and be able to perform the behaviors that your culture attributes to these roles.
health and wellness
Health and wellness
  • A state of physical, mental, emotional and social well-being.
quality of life
Quality of Life
  • Discrepancy between one’s personal attainment of physical well being, material well being, social well being, emotional well being & productive well being and the degree of mastery and the norm’s for one’s own culture.
  • Promotion of a healthy lifestyle that allows a person to achieve personal quality of life. A lifestyle is the day to day activities that represent your beliefs, attitudes and values. These activities include your habits and the routines you follow--the way you organize your time.
  • According to the Occupational Therapy Practice Framework (2002), occupational therapists work with clients using the following approaches.
    • Create/promote
    • Restore/establish
    • Maintain
    • Modify
    • Prevent
create promote
  • Using activities to increase a person’s ability to lead a healthy lifestyle.
    • Parenting classes
    • Fitness classes
    • Stress management
  • For example, the AOTA is currently leading a program to promote safe and efficient use of backpacks in the schools.
restore establish
  • Teaching a skill or ability that a person has lost due to a health impairment or that the person did not acquire during the developmental process.
    • For example, people who experience a traumatic brain injury (TBI) may have trouble reading because they are unable to track the words left to right in a line. To restore that skill, an OT might have them practice by using a cue such as a pencil to trace the movement and an anchor down the sides of the page, such as a bold red line.
  • Provision of supports so the person can maintain skills and abilities learned during the intervention process.
    • Maintaining upper extremity strength developed during establish approach in order to continue independent wheelchair transfers.
  • Using intervention to prevent future problems in persons with or without health impairments.
    • Using ergonomic principles to develop an office station that will prevent further injury to a person with carpal tunnel syndrome.
who works in occupational therapy
Who works in occupational therapy?
  • Occupational therapists
  • Occupational therapy assistants
where do occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants work
Where do occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants work?
  • Hospitals
  • Private clinics
  • Schools
  • Nursing homes
  • Home health agencies
  • Community organizations
  • Mental health centers
  • Visit the website for the Occupational handbook and investigate the outlook for occupational therapy as a profession
what do occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants get paid
What do occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants get paid?
  • “Full-time employed OTs report a median annual salary of $45,000 at their primary setting; full-time OTAs report a median of $30,000. Part-time OTs report a median salary of $26,875; part-time OTAs report a median of $18,928. Average income for full-time and part-time OTs has remained flat since 1997; average income for full-time OTAs has dropped a small amount since 1997. Only part-time OTAs post a noticeable income increase since 1997. Full-time OTs report a median hourly wage of $23.71 for their primary employment setting, about the same reported in 1997. Declines are seen in average hourly wages for part-time OTs and full-time OTAs. The strongest long-term increases are seen for part-time OTAs. OT average salary increases from a low of $37,243 for those with one year or less of experience to a high of $53,568 for those with 15 or more years of experience. Average income peaks at $63,254 for those OTs who have a Doctorate.”

Working on balance at


  • Visit the American Occupational Therapy Association website and review the AOTA 2000 Salary Survey.
how do i become an occupational therapist
Beginning in 2006, the entry level degree for a registered occupational therapist is a post baccalaureate degree. To find the colleges and universities who offer such degrees, visit the AOTA website.

You will need a college degree.

You must pass a national certification exam.

You may need to have a state practice license.

How do I become an Occupational Therapist?
how do i become an occupational therapy assistant
You will need a community college degree.

You will need to pass a national certification exam.

You may need a state license to practice.

Visit the AOTA website for information about educational programs, certification and licensure.

How do I become an occupational therapy assistant?
activity analysis
Activity Analysis
  • Occupational therapists can analyze a complex activity to understand its structure, rules, environment, materials and objects, real & symbolic meaning, and action processes. When they compare the analysis to a person, they are able to determine why the person may be having trouble participating in the activity and find ways to help.
assessment of domains
Assessment of Domains
  • Occupational therapists know how to use activities to assess an individual within the domains of affective, motor, cognitive, and spiritual. In this picture the occupational therapist is using a leather lacing activity to assess the cognitive domain.
  • One way to help is to modify the activity, the materials used in the activity or the environment. In this picture, the person is using a special knife called a rocker knife to cut meat in the pan.
restore establish30
  • When an occupational therapist has determined that a person is having trouble with an activity because of a problem in a particular domain, s/he may work on strengthening the components within the domain. The following slides show ways the therapist may use assessments to determine problems and to identify progress.
testing hand strength
Testing hand strength
  • Occupational therapists know how to use tools such as a hand dynamometer to test for hand strength.
range of motion
Range of Motion
  • Occupational therapists know how to use a finger goniometer to assess the range of motion of each finger.
grip and grasp
Grip and Grasp
  • Occupational therapists use a pinch meter to determine how much strength a person has when the use a pinch grasp.
  • Occupational therapists make and modify splints to provide support for persons who are recovering from a variety of injuries. This is usually used to prepare the person for engagement in occupation or to support an area of the body that needs protection.