Occupational therapy, which uses purposeful activities to treat physical and emotional disabilities, was first reported in Texas in a 1928 survey that found four subscribers to Occupational Therapy and Rehabilitation. The first organization devoted to occupational therapy as a profession, the National Society for the Promotion of Occupational Therapy, had been founded in 1917. In 1932 the first National Registry of the American Occupational Therapy Association listed four Texas members-two employed in state hospitals for the mentally ill and two in veterans' facilities. The number of registered occupational therapists in Texas fluctuated between three and ten during the 1930s but more than quadrupled during the 1940s. By 1985 more than 1,600 registered therapists and 250 certified occupational therapy assistants lived in Texas.
An occupational therapy course was established at the Texas State College for Women (now Texas Woman's University) at Denton in 1944. The School of Allied Health Sciences at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, established in 1968, included occupational therapy. The first class graduated in 1970. The Occupational Therapy Department of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio began admitting students in 1980. The Health Science Center of Texas Tech University at Lubbock established a program in 1983. The first Texas training program for occupational therapy assistants began with a federal grant to the City Health Department of Houston in 1968. It is now a part of the Houston Community College System. The United States Army Academy of Health Sciences at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio trains army and air force personnel as certified occupational therapy assistants.
The Texas Occupational Therapy Association was founded in 1936 by seven therapists and three others in Dallas. The association has sponsored continuing education for members and other therapists since its inception. In order to facilitate frequent local meetings, TOTA divided the state into districts in 1956. The association was incorporated in 1973. In 1983 TOTA led a successful campaign to attain state licensure for occupational therapists and assistants. The Texas Advisory Board of Occupational Therapy is the agency responsible for licensing.