What Is Occupational Therapy and Who Can It Help?
Posted May 16, 2022
While physical therapy focuses on strength, muscle performance, and other large scale injuries, occupational therapy helps people regain the ability to perform activities of daily living. Things like brushing your teeth, cooking, and putting on clothes can be extremely difficult after surgery, or after suffering a neurological event like a stroke.
Occupational therapists help with all of these tasks, and so many more! For children with developmental conditions, congenital or birth defects, or behavioral concerns, occupational therapists can help facilitate learning new skills and staying on track with developmental timelines. Occupational therapy can also aid in improving cognitive function, as well as sensation, communication, and emotional regulation.
When an adult suffers a debilitating injury, or when kids struggle to assimilate to their everyday environments, even the smallest tasks can be overwhelming and impossible. Eating, bathing, writing, and many other things are made possible through occupational therapy. Our occupational therapists make an enormous difference in our patient’s lives by increasing their independence and their ability to navigate the world around them.
What Does an Occupational Therapist Do?
On your first day of occupational therapy your OT will ask you lots of questions about your health condition, medical history, and what kinds of things you are able to do, as well as what you are not able to do. The OT will perform a thorough evaluation of your movements and abilities.
They will watch you as you try to perform the activities you are struggling with and make a note of ways to improve. If you are experiencing weakness or decreased coordination, they will design a program to address those impairments. If you are dealing with a lot of pain, or problems with sensation, they can also figure out the cause of the pain and reduce the unpleasant sensation.
Every day that you come to occupational therapy, your clinician will work with you to accomplish clearly defined goals that you will set together. If your goal is to improve your fine motor control in order to be able to button up your shirt, your OT will give you strategies and help you practice similar skills. An occupational therapist can also help decide if you would benefit from adaptive equipment, braces, or assistive devices like wheelchairs or walkers.
OT, PT, and everything in between.
Who Can Benefit From Occupational Therapy
Occupational therapy is designed for anyone who has trouble adapting to their environment or completing certain essential tasks, which means we have all likely been candidates for occupational therapy at some time or another!
While occupational therapy is an excellent resource for all kinds of people with a range of abilities, certain populations have more difficulty navigating day to day life than others. People who have had a stroke or a traumatic brain injury, may experience difficulty regaining control of their legs and arms, as well as cognitive impairments, pain, and communication deficits. They are sometimes no longer able to take care of themselves, and need a lot of help from family and caregivers.
Occupational therapy allows these individuals to learn to complete self-care tasks like dressing, bathing, eating, and even working independently which increases autonomy and well-being. Being able to complete these essential activities is crucial to developing or regaining a sense of confidence and self-sufficiency. These patients can definitely benefit from occupational therapy as they recover and attempt to become independent.
Children can also benefit from occupational therapy as they grow up and try to adapt to their environments, from home, to school, and out in the community. For children who struggle with sensory adaptation, their occupational therapist can provide strategies and techniques to manage their responses and behaviors. Occupational therapists can also help children improve their school performance, stay on track with their peers, and reach their full potential.
Find an OT Near You Today
Ultimately anyone struggling with fine motor control, safety, or accomplishing the day to day tasks necessary in their life may consider occupational therapy as a potential resource. There are countless benefits of occupational therapy, including improved motor control, independence and safety.
At Confluent, we love our occupational therapists and we know you will too! Schedule an appointment to discover the many that occupational therapy can make your everyday routine so much more manageable. Our occupational therapists can’t wait to empower you to reach your goals and improve your quality of life!