Rehabilitation Professions Career Video: Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech Pathology

Rehabilitation Professions Career Video: Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech Pathology Transcript

If you're looking for a career where you can help people of all ages and make a real difference in each person's quality of life, you should take a look at becoming a therapist in a rehabilitation profession. These allied health specialists use approaches such as occupational therapy, speech-language pathology and physical therapy to restore or improve a patient's ability to move, speak and function in daily life.


The rehabilitation professions include occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech-language pathology. These professions require specialized training, advanced degrees and state licensure.


People who are recovering from injury, illness or disability often require the help of a therapist trained in one of the rehabilitation professions. Rehabilitation is the process of helping people of all ages achieve the highest level of functionality, independence and quality of life possible.

Physical therapists treat conditions that cause pain, restrict a person's ability to move and limit the performance of functional activities. Occupational therapists help people with physical or mental challenges to regain, improve or master everyday skills needed to live productive, independent lives. Speech-language pathologists assess, diagnose and treat problems with communication and vocal production, language development and swallowing problems caused by injuries, diseases or genetic disorders.

Job Skills and Duties

People who work in rehabilitation specialties are generally creative problem-solvers. They must be excellent communicators who get along with people of all ages and backgrounds. The rehabilitation professions attract people who are compassionate, supportive and have a great deal of patience. Because patient progress can be painfully slow, it is important to be optimistic and encouraging.

Therapists work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, schools and private practices. A therapist will conduct assessments of each new patient, comparing patient performance with accepted performance norms, to determine areas of strength and weakness. Therapists then formulate a treatment plan and therapy schedule that will promote improvement without overwhelming or straining the patient.

Treatment approaches and therapy methods are different for each profession and each patient. Some possibilities include exercises, practice sessions, re-training, heat and cold treatments, therapeutic massage, lessons on using crutches or a wheelchair, training in assistive technology or teaching adaptive skills.

Training Required

As of 2007, physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech-language pathologists are all required to have at least a master's degree in their profession, such as the Master of Physical Therapy, Master of Arts in Occupational Therapy or the Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology, and all must pass examinations to earn a license to practice in their state.

Students pursuing these professions may follow an undergradute pre-health care program and earn a degree, such as the Bachelor of Science in Occupational Studies, a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Health and Rehabilitation Sciences or a Bachelor of Science in Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences. Many of the master's programs will accept students with other bachelor's degrees if they have included the pre-requisite courses in science and math.

Master's degree programs include classroom training and clinical experience and prepare students to pass the required licensing exams. Doctoral degree programs are available in all of these professions, and are becoming entry-level requirements for some positions.

Well Known Jobs Within this Field of Expertise

Those in the rehabilitation professions often work in hospital or clinical settings where they can have easy access to therapy equipment and assessment technology. Many also work on site at faclities with more limited resources, such as schools or nursing homes.

There are also many allied health workers who assist the rehabilitation professions including, certified occupational therapy assistants, physical therapy assistants and speech language pathology assistants.


The rehabilitation professions of occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech-language pathology are rewarding careers that help patients of all ages develop and function to the best of their ability.


Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

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