Some accidents and diseases can require way more than a short stay in the hospital to get back to a desired level of functioning. Occupational therapists not only help patients improve basic motor functions and reasoning abilities, but they also help them adjust to permanent loss of function (such as people who become paralyzed). The therapist’s goal is to help patients have independent, productive and satisfying lifestyles. For those with permanent functional disabilities, such as spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy, or muscular dystrophy, therapists provide such adaptive equipment as wheelchairs, splints, and aids for eating and dressing. They also design or make special equipment needed at home or at work.
A bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy is the minimum requirement for entry-level positions. In addition to four-year programs at colleges and universities, there are also entry-level master’s degree programs and programs for those who already have a degree in a related field. Students must complete six months of supervised fieldwork prior to graduation. All states require occupational therapists to graduate from an accredited program and pass the American Occupational Therapy Certification Board examination. An applicant for a license to practice as an occupational therapist must complete the requirements of an approved program, complete six months of supervised fieldwork experience, and pass the licensure exam.
- Oakwood College
- Tuskegee University
- University of Alabama at Birmingham – Department of Occupational Therapy
- University of South Alabama – College of Allied Health Professions
- Wallace State Community College – Hanceville