KGI OTD program

What is Occupational Therapy?

Millions of people suffer from life-altering injuries, diseases, and disabilities. Learning how to cope with these complications can be difficult and frustrating, but sufferers can overcome their physical and mental challenges with the assistance of a certified occupational therapist.

Occupational therapists are medical professionals with training in a myriad of competencies that allow them to offer much-needed physical, psychological, medical, and therapeutic assistance to individuals suffering from day-to-day lifestyle difficulties.

What Does an Occupational Therapist Do?

Occupational therapy practitioners offer a holistic healing approach to patients who suffer from chronic illnesses, injuries, or long-term disabilities. If you work in this industry, you may do find yourself working with all age groups, from helping adult patients relearn self-care techniques following a workplace accident, to helping young children with learning and behavioral disabilities enhance their self-esteem.

This is an incredibly specialized and highly versatile profession that often requires comprehensive knowledge of a large number of medical fields that can include psychology, biology, physical therapy, and nursing.

What Are the Different Types of Occupational Therapy?

Every occupational therapist specializes in one or more concentrations. The concentration you choose as an occupational therapist will determine what additional training and certifications you’ll need to receive to perform the type of therapy you desire.

There are more than two dozen occupational therapy specialties and certifications available. The field is also highly in-demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the industry to grow by 18% through 2028, with more than 23,000 jobs added during that time. The 2019 median salary for the industry was just under $85,000 per year.

Several occupational therapy specialties and certifications to consider include:

  • Assistive Technology Professional (ATP)
  • Certified Autism Specialist (CAS)
  • Certified Brain Injury Specialist (CBIS)
  • Certified Living in Place Professional (CLIPP)
  • Certified Hand Therapist (CHT)
  • Certified Low Vision Therapist (CLVT)
  • Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist (CDRS)
  • Certified Stroke Rehabilitation Specialist (CSRS)
  • Certified Neuro Specialist (CNS)
  • Certified Hippotherapy Clinical Specialist (HPSC)

All occupational therapists start with a core set of acquired learning and skills, and then move into concentrations either during their educational programs or after graduation from a certified occupational therapy graduate program.

Occupational Therapy vs. Physical Therapy: What’s the Difference?

These two fields are often confused, and understandably so. The primary difference between occupational therapy and physical therapy is in the breadth of services provided.

Physical therapists primarily focus on the recovery of physical abilities following an accident, major surgery, illness, or the onset of a disability. The primary end goal of physical therapy is on the patient’s ability to regain control of their body, or on learning to navigate physical movement within the realm of a disability or illness.

Conversely, an occupational therapist may perform some or similar tasks that fall under physical therapy. It’s not uncommon for occupational therapists to help patients learn how to perform physical tasks in the face of illness, injuries, or disabilities. But the primary focus of occupational therapy is on daily living and performative tasks. The end goal of occupational therapy is regaining or learning to live independently, even if the illness is chronic or the patient suffers from a lifelong disability.

How Do I Become an Occupational Therapist?

Occupational therapy requires an advanced, post-graduate degree as well as an initial certification from the National Board of Certifications in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT).

An excellent way to get your start into occupational therapy is through the Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) three-year Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) program. KGI’s OTD program has an expected start date of fall 2022.

KGI has applied for and anticipates the program to be accepted for accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA).

Once the program begins accepting students, KGI will offer students a hands-on and interactive curriculum designed to prepare students to be skilled and ethical problem-solvers while learning from industry professionals in a collaborative environment. The program will culminate in students taking and passing requisite certifications in their desired OT concentration.

Contact KGI today to learn more about the Occupational Therapy Doctorate program, including academic prerequisites and updates to the expected program start date.