What is Occupational Therapy (OT)?
Although many people have heard about it, few know exactly what it is, and how far-reaching their scope of practice. Occupational therapy is a proven treatment delivered by a licensed health care professional that helps people independently perform activities of daily life despite impairments or limitations. Simply put, “occupation” means any meaningful activity which “occupies” our time. For example, a child has the occupations of learning, playing, or being a friend, while an adult may engage in working, parenting, and managing a home. Reduced participation in any of these occupations due to activity limitations or illness may lead to a lifestyle of inactivity and the possibility of subsequent further health decline. Occupational therapists work with children, adolescents, and adults who possess or are at risk for physical disabilities, cognitive disabilities, psychosocial dysfunctions, mental illnesses, developmental or learning disorders, maladaptive behaviors, or other disorders and conditions. Interventions typically involve the therapeutic use of meaningful occupations and may focus on restoring function, environmental adaptations, health promotion, or the teaching of compensatory strategies. The following are examples of occupational therapy treatment:
- A child having difficulty with fine motor skills needs help with grasping and releasing toys and developing good handwriting skills, as well as hand-eye coordination to improve play skills, or school skills, like copying from a blackboard.
- An adolescent with attention or sensory integration issues needs help with learning how to self-regulate in order to attend to schoolwork and improve social skills.
- An adult with a mental illness needs help in performing activities of daily living, including managing medications, structuring their time, and other tasks involved in living independently in the community.
- An adult with memory or cognitive problems needs help in developing compensatory strategies in order to maintain a home or job.
- An adult with a substance abuse problem needs help in developing and maintaining a healthy daily routine.
- Anna Blazevic Cargill -