Occupational therapy is an allied health profession which uses ecological approach to identify the skills and barriers in occupational performance. Occupational therapists assess client’s abilities and limitations and provide tailor-made intervention programmes through meaningful activities. They specialise in different fields to gain more comprehensive knowledge and provide insightful treatment to help people perform their daily routine activities independently.
In this article, we will look into various specialisations and specialities in Occupational therapy in brief.
“7” different types of Specialisations in Occupational therapy
Occupational therapy is currently one of the most rapidly growing health professions. In India, we have many educational institutions that provide academic programmes such as Bachelors of Occupational Therapy (BOT), Masters of Occupational Therapy (MOT) and PhD. After graduation in Occupational therapy, Occupational therapists specialise in different fields which include,
- Mental Health/Psychiatry
- Hand and Musculoskeletal/Orthopaedics
- Community based rehabilitation
- Paediatric OTs can provide early intervention services for infants from the day they are born if their condition necessitates therapeutic intervention. They work with children who have Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, Cerebral palsy, Learning disabilities, Genetic conditions etc. They help in improving a child’s gross motor, fine motor, cognitive, social-emotional skills which promote their participation in play, academics and self-care activities.
- Mental Health/Psychiatry
- Mental health OT focuses on people with conditions such as Schizophrenia, Mood disorder, Anxiety, Substance abuse etc. They assess cognitive, social – emotional skills of the client and help the client to participate in his/her occupation by identifying his/her interest and skills. They also perform vocational evaluation and identify the skills required to perform the job and provide training.
- They teach clients coping strategies and self-regulation strategies which encourage participation in their daily life routine.
- Occupational therapists with specialisation in Neurology are adept in working with people who have conditions such as Stroke, Traumatic brain injury, Spinal Cord Injury etc. They perform detailed evaluation of client’s abilities and limitations and then design an intervention plan. They do ADL (Activities of Daily Living) evaluation and training, home safety assessment, home modification, promote community participation and help the client return back to work.
- Hand and Musculoskeletal
- This field of specialisation gives Occupational therapists with in-depth knowledge to help people with orthopaedic conditions such as injury after accident/trauma, congenital orthopaedic diseases etc. They train clients to perform their daily life activities by providing ADL training, mobility training using aids such as crutches, wheelchair, assistive devices/adaptive devices, home modification and vocational training.
- Occupational therapists focus on rehabilitation of cancer patients through symptom management such as pain, fatigue, anxiety, depression etc. Occupational therapists provide ADL training, motor training, sensory training, cognitive training such as memory, problem solving, decision making, vocational training, and environment modification to promote their active participation in daily life.
- Occupational therapists help older adults to maintain better quality of life by improving physical, mental, social and emotional health. They ensure safety of elderly population by preventing fall, home modification and creating a safer living environment e.g. ramp to make wheelchair accessible.
- Community based rehabilitation
- CBR is a community level rehabilitation program. This program offers rehabilitation, equalisation of opportunities and social inclusion of people with disabilities. Occupational therapist is one of the members of the rehabilitation team. They help clients by early identification and intervention of disabilities. They assess the client, identify their need, and further refer to other professionals in the team for rehabilitation.
“5” Types of Occupational Therapy Specialties
Occupational therapists have a lot of opportunities to specialise in different areas throughout their career. Many organisations in India and abroad provide certification courses by conducting online/offline classes and examinations. Pursuing advanced certification courses help gain further insight into the specific treatment modality paving way for more informed treatment. Here, we shall discuss about a few specialties:
- 1. Sensory Integration
- Occupational Therapist provides sensory integration therapy to children/adults with sensory integration/sensory processing difficulties. It can be seen in clients diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, learning disabilities etc. Sensory Integration certification helps in applying Sensory integration therapy principles to promote client’s participation in their occupations such as play, academics, self-care, job etc.
- Assistive Technology
- Occupational therapists use assistive technology to enhance occupational performance and participation in daily life. Occupational therapist does activity analysis, evaluates client’s needs, selects appropriate devices and trains them. This helps to maintain or improve functional capabilities and occupational performance of clients.
- Splinting and Hand therapy
- Splinting is one of the strong domains in Occupational therapy. Splints are useful to the clients with upper extremity or hand injury in their recovery. Splints are devices which help in maintaining or improving range of motion of joints. It can be either a rigid or flexible device.
- Occupational therapist performs comprehensive hand evaluation and designs splints, according to the need, on the basis of splinting principles and techniques. Carefully chosen and designed splint enhances independence and participation of clients in daily life and work.
- Drivers rehabilitation
- Drivers rehabilitation is a specialized program designed to rehabilitate people with difficulty in driving due to conditions such as stroke, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, cancer, amputation etc. Occupational therapist conducts detailed assessment of client’s abilities and limitations. An evaluation of the vehicle is also conducted to identify the modifications or adaptations needed in the vehicle. This ensures their safety and maximises independence in community participation.
- Aquatic therapy
- Aquatic therapy is a unique intervention program which uses different activities in water for physical and cognitive rehabilitation. It is used as an intervention tool by Occupational therapists for improving sensory processing, motor skills, cognitive skills, balance, motor planning, self regulation, impulse control, oral motor skills etc.
Occupational therapy is a unique, creative and rewarding profession. Occupational therapists work with people of various age groups with different disabilities and illness. They not only consider clients but also their environment during assessment and intervention planning providing a holistic treatment. Over the years, Occupational therapists are successful in creating a beneficial impact in the lives of others and helping them to live their life most satisfyingly.