OT = Occupational Therapist, But What Do These Therapists Do?

Wednesday, May 4th, 2022

OT working with patient

Occupational therapists (OTs) and are highly skilled healthcare professionals who help people adapt to injuries and illnesses. The term “occupational” is a bit of misnomer because not all OTs focus on work activities.

You’ll find them in nearly every medical field, including orthopedics, neurology, pediatrics, mental health, geriatrics, and oncology. They often serve patients who need to recover the ability to perform activities of daily living. Some seriously ill COVID-19 patients who had lengthy hospital stays learned to bathe and dress themselves again with the help of OTs.

Like physical therapists, they help people increase strength and flexibility, usually in the upper extremities. OTs can also assess a patient’s social and communication skills and recommend ways to improve them.

Educational requirements are stringent. Candidates need to graduate at a master’s or doctoral level from an occupational therapy program and be accredited by the American Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE).

Those that also pass an exam administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) have OTR instead of OT after their names. Then after all that, OTs must be licensed by their local states. Most states require continuing education for OTs to maintain their licenses.

In workers’ compensation, OTs wear a lot of hats. You’ll find them assigned to claims with upper body injuries, including cumulative musculoskeletal injuries of the hands and arms. They also perform job analyses and recommend ergonomic changes, accessibility and assistive technologies, and work accommodations to facilitate return to work.

Naturally, at ATF Medical OTs usually work on complex claims, including spinal cord injuries, falls, traumatic brain injuries, severe burns, and crush injuries. OTs evaluate the injured worker’s condition, their home and family situation, and recommend ways to restore as much independence and functionality along with the highest quality of life as possible.

For example, our Director of Rehab Technology Edwina Murphy, OT, ATP developed a way to prevent wounds. ATF Medical’s Pressure Injury Prevention Program identifies areas where pressure injuries are developing or are likely to develop and recommends ways to avoid painful wounds.

OTs at ATF Medical work on adaptive housing solutions, assessing the home, evaluating the injured individual. They stay up to date on the plethora of assistive technologies, adaptive equipment, emerging accessibility tools, and home renovation designs. Their expertise makes them valuable members of the team that decides on the best most efficient and cost-effective adaptive housing solutions.

This is part of a series defining some of the acronyms and terms in our industry.  If there is one you want us to explain, please email rwyche@atfmedical.com.

What is an ATP Anyway?

Thursday, April 28th, 2022

Acronyms mean different things in different industries. Take ATM. It is an automated teller machine in banking and asynchronous transfer mode in telecommunications. It also stands for “at the moment” in texts.

Workers’ comp is rife with acronyms and credentials. There’s CPCU, ARM, MSCC, and CMSP.  Within the rehab technology field, you’ll find ATP, OT, PT, CAPS, CHAMP, CEAC, and more. All the initials behind the names of rehab pros can be confusing, so we decided to do some posts explaining some of the acronyms and certifications in our field.

First up, ATP. Aviation has an ATP (Airline Transport Pilot) certification, but in our world, ATP stands for Assistive Technology Professional.

The ATP certificate is earned through RESNA, the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of America. RESNA defines ATP as a certification that “recognizes demonstrated competence in analyzing the needs of consumers with disabilities, assisting in the selection of appropriate assistive technology for the consumers’ needs, and providing training in the use of the selected devices.”

Only professionals with a specific ratio of academic to work experience can sit for the ATP exam. The test covers a wide knowledge base since ATPs work with so many different assistive technologies. You’ll find them in mobility, seating, and positioning and home mods. ATPs also work with sensory aides, computer accessibility, and devices for the hearing or visually impaired.

In addition to knowing the technical aspects, ATPs need to understand payer sources. There are wildly different standards and approval processes in workers’ comp, Medicare/Medicaid, and private insurance.

Also, in comp, many patients have just experienced sudden, catastrophic changes to their lives. Their providers need soft skills like active listening, good communication, and empathy.

At ATF Medical, most ATPs engage in mobility, seating and positioning, and adaptive housing solutions. Our ATPs collaborate with other professionals to create solutions that balance home modifications and medical equipment. Sometimes the right medical equipment can eliminate the need for a kitchen remodel. The goal is to equip the injured worker for maximum independence, functionality, and quality of life.

ATPs assess a person’s physical, functional, and clinical condition. They also consider family dynamics, lifestyle, pre-injury activities, and return-to-work options. Then they analyze hundreds of rehab technologies and recommend the most appropriate products and features.

ATPs also fit complex rehab equipment to the injured individual and educate them and their families on its use and maintenance. Our ATPs return a few weeks later to answer questions, adjust equipment, and make sure the worker is able to use its features.

In fact, our ATPs stay in touch with the injured worker throughout the life of the claim, maintaining and repairing equipment, and monitoring the worker’s progress. In many ways, they are the claims rep’s eyes and ears on the ground.

Hopefully, this article tells you what an ATP is and what they do. We will cover other industry credentials in upcoming posts. Please let us know if there is a particular one you’d like us to explore. Email us at RWyche@ATFMedical.com.