Craig Velozo, PhD, Division Director
Occupational therapy is a health profession dedicated to helping people participate fully in life. When people are faced with overcoming the effects of delay, deprivation, trauma, or stress, occupational therapists help them engage in occupations or everyday activities that are personally meaningful, socially satisfying, and culturally relevant. In fact, participation in occupation is seen as a health determinant, promoting and adding meaning to life. When occupational therapists focus on the pattern of occupations and the ways in which occupations shape people’s lives, they act as agents of prevention, promotion, education, and restoration. For example, when people have strokes, sustain injuries, or have chronic health problems, occupational therapists help them accomplish their daily living tasks, fulfill their life roles, and participate more fully in life.
Occupational therapists help people learn new skills and adapt to permanent losses. A homemaker with rheumatoid arthritis learns to become more self-reliant in caring for home and family using energy conservation and work simplifications techniques. A high-school student with a spinal cord injury learns to navigate life from a wheelchair and to use technology to participate in the classroom. A child born with a developmental disability learns to interact with family members and to play with other children.
Occupational therapists work in many health care and community settings. They may work in a hospital, rehabilitation center, or long-term care facility, as well as in a school system, home health agency, or private practice. In all these settings, occupational therapists interact with other professionals to help those in need participate more fully in life. Practitioners can enjoy a varied career and many go on to complete additional education to prepare themselves as administrators, educators, or researchers.
The occupational therapy program is a professional entry-level program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), located at 4720 Montgomery Lane, Suite 200, Bethesda, MD 20814-3449. AOTA’s phone number is (301) 652-6611. Graduates of the program are eligible to take the national certification examination for occupational therapists which is administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). Upon completion of this program the student is awarded a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy.