Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapists will be among the fastest-growing occupations as rapid growth in the number of middle-aged and elderly individuals increases the demand for therapeutic services. Additional demand will result from medical advances that allow more patients with critical problems to survive and thus require intensive rehabilitation.

Occupational therapy (OT) is a health and rehabilitation profession that strives to maximize individuals' independence in the daily occupations they pursue. OT teaches clients skills for daily living and provides specialized assistance, enabling them to lead independent, productive and satisfying lives.

Kim Eberhardt, MS, OTR/L is a senior occupational therapist at Boston Medical Center. As an OT, she treats a variety of people with many different types of disabilities. She assesses clients' needs and formulates an individualized treatment program. She then instructs her clients on how to implement the programs to maximize functional independence.

Some examples of services include:

  • Improving abilities to perform activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, eating, transferring to tub and toilet, and desk skills.
  • Comprehensive evaluation of home and job environments and recommendations for necessary adaptations.
  • Assessments and treatment for work performance skills.
  • Recommendations and training in the use of adaptive equipment, such as an elevated toilet seat or a specialized computer mouse (head or voice activated, rather than hand-controlled) to replace lost function.
  • Instructions to family members and attendants in safe and effective methods of caring for individuals.
  • There are many more services than those listed above.

People who benefit from OT might include, among others, those who have suffered a stroke or heart attack. These clients would learn compensation strategies for lost function, such as one-handed activities for a person who sustained a stroke, or energy efficiency techniques for conserving energy during daily activities for an individual with a heart condition.


People who have sustained traumatic injuries to the spinal cord or brain would benefit from OT by learning to perform activities using adaptive devices or other assistive technology. In addition, functional cognitive retraining may be used for people with cognitive deficits.

Those with industrial or work-related injuries may learn about adaptations for the work environment or adaptive methods of performing tasks in order to be able to return to the same or similar occupation.

People with mental health problems, substance abuse problems or eating disorders would be assisted to optimum performance through adaptive coping strategies and educational resources.

People with arthritis, multiple sclerosis and other chronic illnesses would learn simplification and conservation strategies to maximize their independence in daily living activities. There are several types of functional problems that can be remedied through occupational therapy, and it is a rapidly expanding field in terms of new technological innovations.

Ms. Eberhardt has a master's degree in occupational therapy and a bachelor's degree in psychology. She is certified in the Assessment of Motor and Process Skills (AMPS) and the Functional Independence Measurement (FIM).

To become an occupational therapist, one must first complete coursework towards a master's degree and then pass a national exam.  Most states then require a license to practice.  To learn more about an education in OT and certification requirements, click here to view the American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc. (AOTA) website. The phone number is (301) 652-2682.  The AOTA also can provide information regarding state regulatory boards and licensure. For more information about OT, see this YouTube video.