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Necessary physical functions include:
- Physical Strength – A therapist will assist in transferring patients to or from wheelchairs, floors, mats, toilets, cars, beds, bathtubs, and showers. Other transfers may be required. The patients may be paralyzed or have some degree of incapacity such as poor balance, strength, coordination and endurance. The therapist may also have to move equipment, patients in wheelchairs, woodworking tools and craft equipment.
- Mobility – In the course of performing duties in occupational therapy, a therapist will be expected to stand, lift, reach, bend, stretch, provide support and stability, and perform activities on a floor mat. Sufficient independent mobility within the architectural environment is necessary. A therapist must move quickly in an emergency, may have to quickly move patients, and may also perform treatment in a standing position over a long period of time.
- Hearing – A therapist should have the ability to hear faint sounds from a distance of four feet — approximately the distance between a patient seated in a wheelchair and a person in a standing position next to the wheelchair. A therapist may be required to hear sounds such as those emitted by an electric hand saw, electric drill, motorized wheelchair, and blood pressure (using a stethoscope).
- Visual Discrimination – A therapist should have sufficient vision to differentiate movements, read markings on instruments and measuring devices, and read newspaper small print.
- Coordination – Sufficient motor skills, eye-hand coordination skills, manipulative skills and sensory function in one upper extremity may be needed by a therapist to assist with therapeutic activities. Many other therapeutic activities require dexterity, manipulation, strength and body flexibility to perform.
- Manual Dexterity – A therapist should have sufficient fine motor skills to manipulative objects and people safely. Manual dexterity to fabricate splints, to assist a patient in the completion of therapeutic projects/activities, and to demonstrate fine motor movements is also required.
- Communication Skills – A therapist must be able to communicate orally and in writing. For example, a therapist must be able to read and give directions and to record health data regarding patients.