What Does an Occupational Therapist Do?


Many people are familiar with what a physical therapist does but they may not be as familiar with the role of an occupational therapist. A physical therapist uses acupuncture or manual therapy to directly treat a patient’s injury. An occupational therapist helps the patient improve their functional abilities following an illness or injury, teaching them how to complete their daily activities, working around the injury and any physical impairment it presents.

If you or a family member has suffered some type of injury or illness which is interfering with your ability to perform day-to-day activities, contact an occupational therapist to find out how we can help.

Occupational therapists work with patients of all ages who have suffered an injury or have some type of disability which interferes or hampers their ability to do activities such as dressing, eating, activities at work, or activities at school.

Occupational therapists are trained to evaluate the patient’s environment and make any changes that are necessary which will help the patient achieve independence and develop the skills needed to perform certain tasks. Occupational therapists are also trained to work with patients who are suffering from an emotional issue (i.e. depression, anxiety) or have a mental illness or disability.

Occupational therapists can also be found at clinics, community agencies, hospitals, nursing home facilities, private practice, rehabilitation centers, and schools. Many occupational therapists will go to the patient’s home and/or work in order to conduct a full assessment of what the patient’s needs are and help develop a treatment plan. Part of the treatment plan may include certain training, as well as adaptive equipment, as well as education and support for caregivers and family members, depending on how extensive the disability of the patient is.

Occupational therapy takes a holistic approach to treatments and finds a way for the environment to adapt to the patient, not the other way around. The treatment steps the therapist may take in order to determine which goals the patient and therapist will set include:

  1. Completing an evaluation of the patient, where the patient and their family will discuss with the therapist, like a therapist in Palatine, IL, what the patient’s goals are.
  2. Develop a plan whereby the patient is able to perform daily activities and reach their goals.
  3. Another evaluation to make sure that the goals are able to now be met or make changes to the plan if needed.

The areas of a patient’s life were assistance may be needed include:

  • Activities of daily living (also referred to as ADL)
  • Instrumental activities of daily living (also referred to as IADL)
  • Sleep and rest
  • Education
  • Work
  • Leisure
  • Play
  • Social participation

Thanks to our friends and contributors from Lotus Wellness Center for their insight into physical and occupational therapy.