Occupational Therapy: Improving Function While Controlling Costs

A group of health care professionals.

Do your patients struggle with a disease, disorder, or limitation that makes it difficult to engage in everyday activities? Occupational therapy practitioners can help increase their participation and independence while reducing health care costs. 


In its simplest terms, occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants help people of all ages participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities (occupations). Unlike other professions, occupational therapy helps people function in all of their environments (e.g., home, work, school, community) and addresses the physical, psychological, and cognitive aspects of their well-being through engagement in occupation.

Common occupational therapy interventions include helping children with disabilities to participate fully in school and develop social skills, helping people recovering from injury to regain function through retraining and/or adaptations, and providing supports for older adults experiencing physical and cognitive changes. Occupational therapy services typically include:

  • an individualized evaluation, during which the client, family, and occupational therapist determine the person’s goals,
  • customized intervention to improve the person’s ability to perform daily activities and reach the goals, and
  • an outcomes evaluation to ensure that the goals are being met and/or to modify the intervention plan based on the patient’s needs and skills.

Occupational therapy services may include comprehensive evaluations of the client’s home and other environments, recommendations for adaptive equipment and training in its use, training in how to modify a task or activity to facilitate participation, and guidance and education for family members and caregivers. Entry-level practice requires a master’s degree for occupational therapists and an associate’s degree for occupational therapy assistants (who must be supervised by an OT).

What are the outcomes? Occupational therapy is an evidence-based, science-driven profession that applies the most up-to-date research to service delivery. Learn more about the research on the health benefits of occupational therapy and the evidence that is used to support best practice. Read more.

What is the role of occupational therapy in health care reform? Learn more about how occupational therapy is helping to save health care dollars while improving patient outcomes. Read more.