Best Books for Occupational Therapists

19 Best Books for Occupational Therapists

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We all have had a point in our careers where you realize that you are a bit out of your depth, and feel the need to upskill fast! You might be a new graduate, or you’ve decided to change up your OT career, or you’re suddenly receiving a lot of referrals with a caseload of patients you’re unfamiliar with.

If you’re in any of those situations,  we wanted to share with you the best books for occupational therapists to help increase your skillset and add to your OT toolbox.

We will cover the holy grail book in each field of adult-based occupational therapy. You will find OT book suggestions in different categories to guide you in finding what you’re looking for. The categories we cover are: general adult rehabilitation, mental health, neurology, and hands.

This list does not included pediatric books, as there are already wonderful existing blog articles on this with comprehensive lists. It is impossible to list all the incredible books available to OTs in each field, but these OT books come highly recommended and rated.

So, without further ado here are our picks for the best occupational therapy books in each category:

Adult Rehabilitation

Occupational Therapy Toolkit 

I’m positive that 99% of you reading this article already know about this wonderful book by Cheryl Hall, but I would be remiss if I did not include it. This book is a very helpful tool for all physical conditions, and organizes information into: ADLs and IADLs, conditions and diseases and interventions.

It has incredible handouts for patients to educate them on their conditions, as well as exercise handouts. For more on the OT Toolkit and why we love it, check out our extensive review here.

Pedretti’s Occupational Therapy: Practice Skills for Physical Dysfunction

This may have been a required textbook for you back in OT school, and for good reason! Pedretti’s Practice Skills for Physical Dysfunction is the holy grail for everything you need to know when working in adult rehab settings. You’ll be bringing it out many times once you get into practice, since it covers so many important phys-dys topics in one comprehensive resource.

If your OT program didn’t require this book, and you’ll be working with adults, we highly recommend adding it to your arsenal. This textbook includes information about the most common rehab diagnoses along with case studies and evidence-based interventions to use with your rehab patients. It also includes important OT history, theory, process, performance skills, and client factors.

Quick Reference to Occupational Therapy

The Quick Reference to Occupational Therapy is often not a required book in school, but it was very helpful for me especially in my first several years working in adult inpatient rehab and acute care. It covers so many rehab topics, from cardiopulmonary disorders, nervous system disorders, musculoskeletal disorders, and hand/wrist conditions as well as immunologic/infectious diseases, skin disorders, cognitive-perceptual disorders, and mental disorders and lifestyle disorders.

A convenient bonus about this OT book is that it’s smaller in size than a standard textbook so it is easy to take with you to your patients or the gym. The information is also condensed enough to be able to look something up quickly between patients.

Mental Health

Creek’s Occupational Therapy and Mental Health

Creek’s Occupational Therapy and Mental Health is a comprehensive textbook exploring theory and practical issues in mental health and wellbeing. It is appropriate for both students and practitioners, and is written in an ‘easy to read’ manner. The constant link to evidence will allow an OT to feel confident in providing therapy sessions, knowing that it is backed up by research. Many OTs that own this textbook have found themselves reaching for it throughout their degree and in their line of work. I love that this textbook even includes a chapter written by two people who have actually received occupational therapy, and detail their experience of it.

Mastering The Clinical Conversation: Language as Intervention

As OTs we are more aware than many of the power of conversation with our patients. The make or break of a therapeutic relationship is often dependent on the connection made between the OT and patient. This is largely dependent on how we converse with them.

This book provides health care practitioners evidence-based strategies of how to utilize language to facilitate a patient’s mental well-being. It will guide you on how to improve your clinical conversation within assessments and intervention. It takes a book like this to force you to pause and examine how you use language within your sessions.

Recovery Through Activity

Activities are our bread and butter! They are at the core of what occupational therapy is all about. It comes as no surprise that Recovery Through Activity, a well loved book by occupational therapists working in mental health, is a treatment handbook focusing on the value of activities. This book is underpinned on the famous ‘model of human occupation (MOHO),’ and helps OTs to refocus their intervention on occupation, while working in the mental health setting.

It is packed with ideas on activities to use in individual and group sessions. We also think this book will be particularly helpful in guiding managers to introduce occupation-focused protocols in their units.

Other honorable mentions:

Cara and MacRae’s Psychosocial Occupational Therapy (An Evolving Practice) 

Occupational Therapy in Psychiatry and Mental Health

The Polyvagal Theory in Therapy: Engaging the Rhythm of Regulation (Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology) 

Regulating Emotion the DBT Way: A Therapist’s Guide to Opposite Action 

Neurology

Quick Reference Neuroscience for Rehabilitation Professionals: The Essential Neurologic Principles Underlying Rehabilitation Practice

There’s a reason this book is rated as Amazon’s number 1 best selling book in the category of Occupational Therapy. Neuroscience is such a challenging area for anyone to wrap their head around. Furthermore, it is even more challenging to recall this information, so it is useful to have it as a quick guide. This book was written by an OT, so she highlights only the neuroscience concepts needed for an OT.

Occupational Therapy and Neurological Conditions

This book is the perfect introduction to neurological conditions. It will help you to gain greater insight into the different conditions, and an overview of therapy for them. I would recommend this book more for OT students or new graduates, as opposed to experienced therapists.

The Brain Injury Workbook

Textbooks are often a rich source of theoretical knowledge, but it can be challenging to translate it practically into a session. I love workbooks, and the Brain Injury Workbook in particular because it provides handouts that are easy to photocopy and use in sessions with patients. It is an extremely practical workbook.

This book helps you gain more knowledge in: attention, memory, executive function, mood and communication after a brain injury. It also teaches strategies for skills development and compensatory strategies in these areas with wonderful infographics to use with patients.

Other honorable mentions:

Neuropsychology for Occupational Therapists, 4th Edition

Occupational Therapy and Stroke 

Hand/Upper Limb Rehabilitation:

Hand and Upper Extremity Rehabilitation

Hand and Upper Extremity Rehabilitation is an excellent resource for any therapist working in hands. This book is easy to follow and is formatted in a way that allows an OT to use it for quick referencing. It details medical conditions that affect the upper extremities and guides you in treatment options that are backed up by research.

Rehabilitation of the Hand and Upper Extremity

This book is a must read for both hand surgeons and hand therapists as a guide for hand, wrist, elbow, arm and shoulder rehabilitation. It also provides you with access to a video library, which is useful for visual learners. A patient seeing a hand therapist will more than likely be able to spot a red copy of this book on their therapist’s desk or shelf.

Other honorable mentions:

Orthotic Intervention for the Hand and Upper Extremity: Splinting Principles and Process 

Cooper’s Fundamentals of Hand Therapy: Clinical Reasoning and Treatment Guidelines for Common Diagnosis of the Upper Extremity 

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That wraps up our favorite adult population occupational therapy books! We are very aware that textbooks can often be costly. Be on the lookout for people selling their textbooks second-hand on OT Facebook groups, as well as on Amazon for cheaper used options. E-books are also usually cheaper than paperback/hardback copies.

What books do you consider the holy grail in your field of OT? We’re here to help each other grow so that we can all make a positive impact in our patient’s lives, so please share your picks for the best OT books to help each other flourish!

This article was co-written by Alexia Barbis, BScOT and Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L.

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