Occupational Therapy Specialties: Stroke Rehabilitation

Working in the occupational therapy field offers many opportunities to follow your dreams. The field allows for plenty of movement and specialization in certain areas. Whether you are considering enrolling in occupational therapy assistant training programs or if you are simply researching the occupational therapy field before deciding on a career, it's important to research the occupational therapy specialties available to you.

Today, our OT guest blogger shares how she chose to specialize in treating patients who have suffered from strokes.

During my fieldwork rotations as an occupational therapy student, I had the opportunity to see and treat different populations of people in a variety of practice settings. I enjoyed each practice setting; however, my favorite was my neuro experience at an inpatient rehabilitation facility. It was then that I discovered my passion for stroke and traumatic brain injury rehabilitation. When looking for an OT job, I sought a position that would give me the opportunity to serve the neuro population.

OT specialties - stroke rehabilitation

Specializing in Stroke Rehabilitation

When I started my position, I felt pretty confident in my ability to treat stroke and brain injury patients due to my fieldwork. However, the more patients I saw, the more I realized my desire and need to have a greater knowledge to help me treat my patients more effectively and efficiently. It was then I decided to focus my career on stroke rehabilitation. Since then, I have sought out opportunities to improve programs and community reintegration through a stroke support group, and complete as much continuing education as I could with a focus on stroke rehabilitation.

National Stroke Association’s Certified Stroke Rehabilitation Specialist Certification (CSRS)

This year I have completed two certification courses focusing on neuro-rehabilitation that have allowed me to build a better toolbox to help better serve my patients. One certification I completed was the National Stroke Association’s Certified Stroke Rehabilitation Specialist Certification (CSRS). In order to receive this certification, I had to complete a 32-hour course and pass an exam related to the course material. This course was very comprehensive on stroke rehabilitation with information on common deficits caused by a stroke, as well as evidence-based intervention ideas. This course was for occupational therapists and physical therapists, and I would recommend it to anyone wanting a greater knowledge base on stroke rehabilitation.

Neuro-IFRAH Certification

The other certification course I completed this year was the Neuro-IFRAH certification. The certification Is based on concepts by Waleed Al-Oboudi, MOT, OTR/L and is an integrative holistic approach to resolving identified impairments (primarily physical) to allow a stroke survivor greater independence in resuming their life roles. In order to complete this certification, I had to complete a 96-hour certification course which combined lecture, lab, and hand-on patient treatment to fully understand all the concepts. This course has drastically changed the way I practice as a therapist and has allow me to have a stronger skill set to better serve my patients. I would also recommend this course to both new and seasoned therapists as it teaches you how to teach your patient to relearn how their body moves to increase their independence in the community.

Stroke Support Group

I have also strive to reach out to the stroke community in my area by starting a stroke support group for both stroke survivors and stroke caregivers. Currently, our stroke support group has members from the community and from my facility’s stroke program. Each month, the support group allow individuals the opportunity to learn more about a specific topic related to stroke as well as socialize with other who understands what they are going through. We also have invited guest speakers, including a dietician, pharmacy, and social worker, to speak of their expertise in stroke rehabilitation. I feel this opportunity has not only helped my clinical practice, but has been a very rewarding experience.

Why You Should Specialize

My advice for anyone, new or seasoned to the occupational therapist profession, would be to dive full force into an area you are interested in. There are plenty of occupational therapy specialties out there. If you are passionate about a population or setting, do whatever you can to become an expert clinician in the area. I have strived to do this myself. I am definitely not an expert in my area, but it is very rewarding to be able to know you have sought out the knowledge and skill to be able to serve the patient better. I personally do not want to be the weak link on my patient’s treatment team that determine if they will go home or not.

Eager to learn more about working as an occupational therapy assistant? Contact an advisor today about St. Kate's OTA Online Program.

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