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What is Occupational Therapy?




Occupational therapy is a healthcare profession that works with all age groups, providing treatment to people with physical, mental, developmental or emotional problems that impact their ability to do everyday activities. 
For example, an occupational therapist can help an adult recovering from stroke by providing treatment designed to help them manage daily life activities like eating, bathing, and getting dressed, and also help them return to work, making community reintegration and social life possible. So also, a child with ASD would receive treatment designed to help them achieve age-appropriate developmental and play skills and also enhance their participation in daily life. The occupational therapist designs treatment to help improve the quality of life and well-being of the client, focusing on making the client as independent as possible in all areas of their lives.
What Does an Occupational Therapist Do?
Occupational therapy, as the name implies, helps with the occupation or activities of an individual. A child's main occupation is playing and learning. Occupational therapists can evaluate a child’s skills for playing, his/her performance in school, and daily activities, compare them with what is developmentally appropriate for that age group and help them achieve the necessary skills. They focus on helping people with physical, sensory or cognitive disabilities to make them as independent as possible in all areas of their lives.
In the event of illness or injury, occupational therapists can understand an individual’s abilities, impairment, and workplace demands to ensure a successful return to work upon recovery. For example, an individual with depression may find it difficult to keep up with their work demands which may lead to unemployment or other consequences, which in turn may cause their condition to worsen. A never-ending cycle of turmoil. An occupational therapist can help figure out factors that contribute to their condition and provide strategies to promote work productivity and manage work-related and interpersonal issues.
In some situations, returning to the same job may not be possible after injury or illness. In such instances, occupational therapists can assist with exploring alternate work areas, and education, and promote skill development in the individual’s areas of interest for their future pursuits.
Occupational Therapy Areas of Practice 
Occupational therapists practice in a wide range of areas like paediatrics, neurology, musculoskeletal conditions, mental health, geriatrics, etc. The focus of occupational therapy is to approach the patient’s care holistically. 
Occupational therapy is full of fun activities for kids to help improve their functional abilities. An occupational therapist can guide your child to achieve age-appropriate skills and become independent in their daily life activities such as bathing, dressing, toileting etc. They can also help with skills needed for school participation such as handwriting, attention, sitting tolerance, etc.
Listed below are some benefits of occupational therapy
  • - Improve gross and fine motor skills 
  • - Increase independence in self-care skills 
  • - Improve play skills 
  • - Address sensory processing issues 
  • - Enhance social participation skills 
  • - Improve cognitive skills 
  • - Improve pre-writing and writing skills 
An occupational therapist not only works with your child but involves other family members, providing a home program to help your child carry over the skills learned during therapy to the home and classroom. 
Conditions: ADHD, ASD, Learning disability
Conditions: Stroke, Brain injuries, Dementia 
Conditions: Fractures, frozen shoulder, burns, spinal cord injuries 
Mental Health
Occupational therapists are an essential component of a rehabilitation team. They focus on enabling persons to engage or re-engage in meaningful occupations (self-care, work and leisure). They work collaboratively with people in a way that helps foster hope, motivation and empowerment. 
Occupations are a part of life, they describe who we are and how we feel about ourselves, and they help bring meaning to our lives. For example, a carpenter with a substance abuse problem may face issues when it comes to work performance, doing their daily chores, interpersonal relationships etc. with an evident decrease in quality of life. During recovery, they may have decreased endurance, lack of motivation and purpose. They may not feel as competent due to a decrease in skill. Due to this they tend to crave for that “high” feeling and often engage in occupations that inevitably have a negative impact on their lives and result in relapse. This leads to a pattern or a cycle that might be difficult to break. An Occupational Therapist would work with them to help identify not only challenges but strengths that they can use for the betterment of their lives and break out of that negative cycle. In general, the mental health of a person is of key importance while designing a therapy plan, whether it be a physical, mental or cognitive ailment. The focus areas of an occupational therapist include,
  • - Designing individual and group programs and activities to enhance clients’ participation independently in everyday activities.
  • - Developing strategies for clients to overcome their mental health issues.
  • - Improving Clients’ confidence & Self Esteem in sociable situations.
Conditions: Schizophrenia, depression, anxiety
Occupational Therapists can help elderly people lead active and independent lives. 
  • - Helping clients regain their daily lives after specific events such as hip replacement or stroke
  • - Assessing and modifying clients’ home and community environment to improve their safety and reduce dependency.
  • - Prescribing and educating clients on using adaptive equipment to assist function
Other Areas
Oncology and hospice, community-based rehab, acute and chronic general medical and surgical conditions. Specialist intervention in various health conditions including surgery, burns, HIV and acute mental health include, 
  • - Assessing clients’ Cognition, function and Psychosocial needs
  • - Monitoring clients’ function and progress, prescribing adaptive equipment to   ensure safety on discharge from hospitals.
  • - Using specialized assessments to determine the functional requirement of various jobs and clients’ capacity to return to work. 
  • - Designing and co-ordinating graded return to work programs.
  • - Educating Clients in safe work practices.
  • - Modifying work environment to suit the needs of individuals so as to prevent or minimize injuries.
In Ergonomics, the goal is to promote worker health, safety, and productivity. Occupational therapists provide ergonomic solutions for workers to help prevent work-related injuries, musculoskeletal injuries, etc., (e.g. Carpal tunnel syndrome). They also identify barriers in the workplace and recommend universal design elements to ensure optimal functioning and accessibility for all.
All India Occupational Therapists ‘Association (AIOTA) issues Certification of Ergonomic Suitability of Seating, Educational and other ranges of products manufactured by concerned firms after carrying out an inspection. This certification ensures that school and office types of furniture provided are ergonomically suitable and prevent work-related injuries like low back pain.