An historical overview of the development of occupational therapy education in Brazil

Mirela Oliveira Figueiredo


Introduction: The first occupational therapy (OT) undergraduate programme in Brazil opened in 1956 in Rio de Janeiro by the “Associação Brasileira Beneficente de Reabilitação”, as a technical educational course. It became a university undergraduate programme only in 1969.

The aim of this article is to provide a comprehensive overview of the development of OT undergraduate programmes in Brazil. In addition, a mapping of the distribution of existing educational courses in Brazil will be reported through an historical overview. From 1958 until 1986, 15 undergraduate programmes were identified. Between 1987 and 1999, this number increased to 24 and finally between 2000 and 2011 this number was raised to 75 across the whole country. There are some significant differences between the OT courses, depending on the region of the country. The lecturing laboratory spaces that drew the most attention were the Assistive Technology Laboratories, which only began to appear in the middle of the 2000s. 

Conclusion: There was a marked increase throughout the last decade in the number and the quality of OT undergraduate programmes in Brazil, which consequently enhanced the number of occupational therapists in the country, improved standards within the profession and brought advances in the field of practice. In order to understand the role of the practitioners in the contemporary world a dialogue between different countries and continents plays an important role when reflecting on the OT undergraduate programmes.

 Keywords: occupational therapy, undergraduate programmes, educational institutions.


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ISSN 0038-2337 (print), ISSN 2310-3833 (online)

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