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Why Occupational Therapy is a Growing Field

OT growing field

Good news for occupational therapists and upcoming grads – as of 2023, occupational therapy is a growing field. This career is expected to grow 14% between 2021 and 2031. That’s over 10,000 new position openings per year. So, why is occupational therapy so important and why is the field growing so quickly?

What is occupational therapy?

A quick rundown for anyone not familiar with this field: 


Occupational therapists are healthcare professionals who help patients adapt to various disabilities or life changes. They work with patients to help them achieve goals and a more independent and satisfying life.

They may help patients with physical skills, such as writing, dressing, or using adaptive equipment such as a wheelchair. 


They also help patients with cognitive skills, such as:

  • Using executive function strategies to plan their days
  • Using visual-spatial abilities to navigate their surroundings
  • Using attention and memory skills to perform their best at school or work


OTs can also help patients with mental health aspects of life changes. They can assist patients in creating positive coping methods and in working on accepting difficult life changes.


OTs may work in a variety of settings, such as clinics, hospitals, assisted living facilities, and schools. Clinicians often work with a diverse group of patients, as people of all ages and backgrounds may need occupational therapy at some point in their lives.

Why the occupational therapy field is growing

In assisted living

Part of the demand for more occupational therapists is due to a large aging population. Many patients require occupational therapy for age-related issues such as arthritis, stroke, and neurodegenerative conditions such as dementia or Alzheimer’s. This has increased the demand for occupational therapists in assisted living facilities and nursing homes. Additionally, as people age, it’s common to want to stay at home for as long as possible. OTs can often help individuals achieve this by helping them make modifications to their daily routines to ensure safety in the home.

In hospitals

There are other factors contributing to the need as well. Some hospitals have found that utilizing occupational therapy has lowered readmissions rates of patients. When a patient attends occupational therapy for issues such as heart failure, their likelihood of recovering and seeing successful outcomes seems to increase. Therefore, many hospitals are beginning to see the need for occupational therapists on staff.


In general, it seems that the healthcare field is seeing the benefits of preventative care and maintaining one’s health as much as possible, rather than waiting for a more impactful and expensive medical situation to arise. Occupational therapy plays a huge role in these preventative measures.

In schools

OTs are also needed in schools as part of special education services. In the United States, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was passed in 2004, and there has been an expanding need for OTs in schools since then. OTs can work with children with learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, or health impairments. Their work with children may include rehabilitation and cognitive stimulation, as well as support for children’s academic achievements and promoting positive behaviors. For example, an occupational therapist could work with a child on their executive function skills, helping them to manage their time and workload in a sustainable way.


Occupational therapy is often perceived as only a rehabilitation field, but it expands to many aspects of care that are sometimes overlooked.


It’s a welcome trend to see that OTs are being recognized for all the ways that they benefit their patient’s lives, and how their care may help to prevent more significant medical issues. 


As more OTs enter the field, we’re here to provide resources and support. If you’re an OT who is interested in using HappyNeuron Pro’s digital cognitive exercises with your patients, don’t hesitate to reach out! 

If you’re a new grad, learn about our discount for recent graduates.

Quick Summary

  • Occupational therapists work with patients to adapt to injuries, illness, cognitive conditions, or other conditions that affect their abilities.
  • OTs work with patients to help them live a more independent and satisfying life.
  • Occupational therapy is a growing field, as the need for OTs is being recognized in multiple settings such as schools, hospitals, and assisted living facilities.
  • HappyNeuron Pro is the leading digital cognitive therapy tool. We are proud to provide cognitive rehabilitation and stimulation tools for OTs, and provide a discount for recent grads.

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