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Understanding Occupational Therapy

What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational Therapy is a health profession whose goal is to help people achieve greater independence, meaning and satisfaction in all aspects of their lives.

Occupation is everything that a person does during the course of everyday life, including self-care, caregiving, housekeeping, school, work, leisure, play and social activities.

Occupational Therapy is the only profession that helps people across the lifespan to do the things they want and need to do, through therapeutic use of the daily activities (occupations).

Occupational Therapy practitioners have a holistic perspective, in which the focus is on adapting the environment and/or task to fit the person, and the person is an integral part of the therapy team.

Occupational Therapy helps people who have physical, cognitive, or mental disabilities. OT helps people to gain the skills they need to perform everyday functions in order to lead better lives.

Occupational Therapy interventions include helping people recovering from injury to regain skills, provide supports for older adults experiencing physical and cognitive changes, and help children and teens with disabilities to participate fully in school and social situations. Some of the approaches used by Occupational Therapists:

  • Establishing mutually defined goals
  • Teaching and facilitating alternative ways of doing things
  • Prescription of assistive devices and equipment to facilitate independence in activities of daily living
  • Prescription of mobility devices and seating
  • Recommendations for home renovations and adaptive equipment to maximum accessibility and independence
  • Cognitive rehabilitation including compensatory strategies
  • Stress management techniques
  • Reintegration of clients into the community
  • Consultation with client’s family members, other health care professionals, and social service agencies (a team approach)
Girl helping elderly woman in kitchen

Developing Skills, Building Lives

A person can benefit from Occupational Therapy through setting up their environment, provision of devices, and education to facilitate the ability to safely re-engage in everyday tasks like meal preparation.

Man gardening

Creating the Context in Which People Can Thrive

Through Occupational Therapy’s use of everyday tasks that are important to the individual, it helps people develop a sense of meaning and purpose, and this can result in increased motivation and participation.

Stress management - Therapy - Motivation - Travel - Relax - Exercise - Hobby

Slow Down. Calm Down. Don’t Worry. Don’t Hurry. Trust the Process.

There is growing evidence that when people become more stressed and anxious, their level of function decreases. By facilitating stress management, Occupational Therapy practitioners enable people to become more focused and ready to engage in their therapy.

Girl playing guitar by lake

Develop. Recover. Maintain.

Through people learning new skills, recovering the ability to engage in activities that have been limited due to injury or illness, and learning how to maintain the skills learned or regained, people’s self-esteem improves. Scientific research is showing the importance of music in therapy, especially for mood and cognition.

Silhouette of disable person and dog with sky background

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