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The Future of Occupational Therapy

Despite COVID-19 and other challenges in the discipline, occupational therapy has a bright future ahead.
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Healthcare professionals are essential: they save and improve lives every day. Occupational therapists are the ones that help people function in all of their environments. Being able to walk out of a hospital is sometimes a miraculous thing but healing doesn't always stop there.

Occupational therapy addresses physical as well as psychological and cognitive aspects of patients. These patients are working on performing daily activities at home, work, school, etc. Typically occupational therapists help patients with disabilities develop social skills, those recovering from injury, or older adults experiencing cognitive or physical changes. For every patient, their environment plays a big factor.

OT During COVID-19

During the pandemic, people who require occupational therapy should not be put on hold. Since occupational therapists tend to think outside the box in their every day jobs, most took the challenges posed by COVID-19 in stride. However, since occupational therapy is focused around the patients’ environment, there are additional complications when the therapist cannot be in the same environment as the patient.

Telehealth

Therapist have utilized technology like telehealth to overcome some of the obvious obstacles created by social distancing. Throughout the pandemic, insurance companies, Medicaid plans, and Medicare have been flexible regarding telehealth expansion. These flexibilities have allowed occupational therapists and their patients to continue their sessions without adding risk.

Many patients and practitioners are concerned that these entities will end the flexibilities when COVID-19 becomes less of a concern due to increased immunity and vaccinations. American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) has “initiated an advocacy campaign to make occupational therapy via telehealth a permanent benefit.”

OT Compact by 2024

The AOTA is also working on creating an Occupational Therapy Licensure Compact that will begin state participation by 2024. The Compact will be an interstate professional licensing compact for occupational therapist to address working across state lines. This Compact will improve patient access to therapist as well as enhance the mobility of occupational therapy practitioners.

As of March 2021, Virginia became the first state to enact the Occupational Therapy Licensure Compact. The AOTA provides a clear timeline for the Compact here and appears to be on track.

Better Outcomes

Occupational therapy practitioners provide habilitation and rehabilitation services. By focusing on managing chronic conditions, and supporting independence, they can actually decrease overall healthcare costs.

There is compelling evidence that occupational therapy can help stall some age-related decline. Therapists provide activity-based interventions that maximize independence and can enhance overall functioning for older adults.

In addition, occupational therapists can help the more than 130 million Americans that suffer from chronic pain. Chronic pain is estimated to be responsible for more than $100 billion annually in health care and related expenses. Occupational therapists approach pain management in a way that helps patients. They provide tactics to identify pain triggers, as well as recommending adaptive strategies to reduce pain during routine tasks. These tactics lead to cost saving by improving function as well as increasing the return-to-work rates.

Occupational Therapist Jobs

At SHC we offer occupational therapy placements in dozens of skillsets and settings. If you want to care for individuals who have the potential to function independently after working with you, contact us and get started today. If you are interested in skilled nursing facilities, rehabilitation, home health, or even schools, we are ready to find you your dream position anywhere across the country.

 

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