What is Occupational Therapy?

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There are a number of jobs in the medical world. One of them is an occupational therapy practitioner. But, what is occupational therapy actually? Let’s find out what occupational therapy is here.

About Occupational Therapy

According to the American Occupational Therapy Association site, occupational therapy is a profession which helps people across the lifespan to do the things that they want and have to do through the therapeutic use of daily activities. Occupational therapy practitioners are able to make people live life to its fullest and they do that by helping them promote health and prevent or live better with injury, illness or disability.

Furthermore, on the American Occupational Therapy Association site, it is explained that common occupational therapy interventions include helping kids with disabilities to take part fully in school and social situations, helping people recovering from injury to get skills, and providing support for older adults experiencing physical and cognitive changes.

Occupational Therapy Definition
On the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT) site, it is explained that occupational therapy is a type of health care that helps to solve the problems that interfere with the ability of a person to do the things that are important to them.

About Occupational Therapists and Places Where They Work

Occupational therapists are also called OTs. They are providers of occupational therapy services. According to the CAOT site, occupational therapists are:

  • University educated professionals who apply their specialized skills and knowledge to recommend a course of preventive or corrective action that will be able to help people lead lives which are more productive and satisfying.
  • Trained to understand not only the medical and physical limitations of a disability or injury, but also the psychosocial factors that can give effects to the functioning of the whole person namely their health and their wellness.
  • A regulated medical profession, occupational therapists need to be registered with their provincial regulator to be able to practice legally.

Occupational therapists work in various settings and those are explained below according to the CAOT site.

  • Home and Community
    Occupational therapists are able to work in home care, health boards, private practices, community mental health centres, halfway houses, clinics, groups homes, community action groups, vocational programs, and workers compensation boards.
  • Institutions
    Occupational therapists can work in institutions such as rehabilitation centres, hospitals, intermediate and long term care facilities, nursing homes, mental health centres, recreation centres, correctional institutions, schools, universities and colleges, and research centres.
  • Industry and Business
    Occupational therapists are able to work in industry and business such as rehabilitation companies, corporations, architectural firms and insurance companies.
  • Government
    Occupational therapists are able to work in all levels of government advising in the areas of health promotion, accessibility, disability prevention/ management, vocational/ health planning and international rehabilitation program development.

People Who Need Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy is needed by people who struggle to do any kind of task. As explained on WebMD site, you are able to ask your doctor whether Occupational therapy could help you if you have one of these health problems:

  • Arthritis and chronic pain
  • Stroke
  • Brain injury
  • Joint replacement
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Low vision
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Poor balance
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Mental health or behavior issues

Occupational therapy is also able to help kids who suffer from ADHD, birth defects, autism, juvenile arthritis, or severe injuries or burns.

The Things That Occupational Therapists Do

Occupational therapists work with people of all ages from babies to young children and even adults in midlife and seniors. As explained on the WebMD site, the occupational therapist will see how you do any kind of activity or task and then they will make a plan to improve the way you do it so that it will make it easier or less painful for you in doing those tasks.

On the first day of your appointment, the occupational therapist will assess your needs. They do that by coming to your home or workplace to see what you do and what changes that you need to make. After that, they will work with you to make a therapy plan and set goals which are designed for your disability, needs or limits. Your occupational therapist is able to train you to improve your motor skills, adapt your movements or hand-eye coordination or do tasks in new ways.

Here are the possibilities of what an occupational therapist will do to you.

  • Occupational therapists may prescribe and train you to use helpful devices such as wheelchairs or raised toilet seats.
  • Occupational therapists may teach you new ways to do several things such as buttoning a shirt, getting in and out of the shower, tying your shoes, or working on your computer.
  • Occupational therapists may help older adults prevent falls in their home or in public areas.
  • Occupational therapists may treat adults who have had a stroke to be able to change their home to prevent injuries, improve balance, build muscle strength or adapt to their memory or speech problems.
  • Occupational therapists may organize your medications or household tools.
  • Occupational therapists may address behavior problems in kids who act out or hit others.
  • Occupational therapists may build hand-eye coordination so that you are able to hit a tennis ball.
  • Occupational therapists may work on motor skills so that you are able to grasp a pencil.

The Differences Between Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy

Physical therapy and occupational therapy can help improve the quality of life of kids. However, there are some differences. According to the KidsHealth site, here are the differences between physical therapy and occupational therapy.

  • Physical therapy can help with strength, pain, joint range of motion, endurance and gross motor skills (large-muscle movements made with the legs, arms, feet or entire body).
  • Occupational therapy helps with sensory-processing problems, cognitive (thinking) skills, visual-perceptual skills, and fine motor skills (small-muscle movement made with fingers, hands and toes such as grasping)

Finding an Occupational Therapist

To find an occupational therapist, you are able to ask your doctor to refer you to a specialist. You are also able to talk to the guidance counselor or the school nurse because they may be able to give you a recommended OT based on the academic or social needs for your kids if you need an OT for your kids.

Alternatively, you are able to contact a nearby hospital or rehabilitation center for referrals. Visiting The American Occupational Therapy Association website can also be done to find your state’s occupational therapy association.

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