Lack of Awareness in Occupational Therapy
Among the paramedical courses much sought-after are physiotherapy and occupational therapy.
With more awareness about physical fitness, physiotherapists and occupational therapists have found a niche area to work in.
Occupational therapy deals with what the name suggests – occupation-related problems including body posture, long hours of sitting, vocation or anything that occupies much of one’s time, says Sowmya Menon of FIVE, a centre for child development in Chennai.
A professional speech therapist, she says a full-time occupational therapist can hope to make Rs.8,000 a month as salary and Rs.10,000 with a master’s degree in the subject.
Parvathy Viswanath of Aikya says that children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and autism need occupational therapists. The city does not experience a dearth of such therapists.
Occupational therapists also have scope for private practice, says Ms. Menon. “Your expertise and how much you can provide determine how much you charge. All you need is equipment that ranges from a simple slate to complex material.”
Parvathy Viswanath of Aiyka, a school for special children in Chennai, agrees. “There are a good number of occupational therapists and they are expensive. They have their own clinics and do not follow the Rehabilitation Council of India norms.”
Physiotherapy has of late been recognised as an important need in almost all fields of medicine, be it geriatrics, people who have had surgery, are recuperating from illness or are merely looking to keep fit.
With more awareness about the need to improve the health and lifestyle of people with disabilities, private organisations appoint therapists to teach exercises.
With 33 private colleges offering physiotherapy, each year at least 1,500 students graduate from colleges across the state. Many of them go abroad as the scope for therapists there is more.
Those who stay back take up medical coding and medical transcription, says S. Suresh of Forum for Physiotherapists.
David D. Livingston of Tiruchi, who has been working with children in the below-14 age group for four years under the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan, says there is a need for physiotherapists in the districts. “In each block I visit five to 10 students.
We have only two therapists per district. In Tiruchi alone there are 4,000 special children under the SSA programme and we have only four physiotherapists. We need two for every block.”
“Gone are the days when people did not know the importance of physiotherapy. People now understand the need to exercise,” says J. Sheba Neeru Priya, a teaching faculty at the Academy of Fitness Management run by Fitness One.