Occupational Therapy can help people improve function, live independently

Published Apr 8, 2018 at 9:00am

As an Occupational Therapy student, I find it surprising that many individuals who are recovering from an illness or injury or need adaptive techniques and devices don’t receive OT (occupational therapy) services.

Occupational therapy is a health profession focused on the well-being and quality of life for the individuals receiving therapy. The profession consists of Occupational Therapists (OT) and Occupational Therapy Assistants (OTA). Practitioners use evidence-based therapy intervention to provide the best treatment for an individual’s goals and desires.

A variety of locations utilize OT services such as hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, community settings, private practices, clinics, and schools.

Since occupational therapy is a skilled health care profession, a variety of insurances will cover most or all of the visit for the individual. 

Since OT is a diverse health profession, it can help all individuals from a newborn baby to a 100-year-old centenarian and beyond live independently with their daily activities and tasks. Think of some of the everyday tasks you do such as writing, getting a glass of water, cooking, eating, brushing your teeth, showering, making a bed, doing laundry, or putting on a shirt.

If you or someone you know has difficulty with tasks such as these, OT can be beneficial.

Practitioners focus on tasks such as these to help the individual recover to live their life as independently as possible. This is to include assisting the individual to return to those important roles in their life such as employee, parent, grandparent, or volunteer.

Therapists are able to do this by adapting the task to the individual, adapting the individual to the task, social intervention and advocacy for the individual in recovery.

The OT will know the best approach needed by first sitting down and talking with the individual to learn what their goals are for receiving treatment. The conversation is followed by an assessment to evaluate the individual’s abilities. The OT then implements treatment and makes changes to the treatment depending on the progression toward the goal.

You can get a visit with an OT by talking with your doctor about a referral for therapy services. If your child or grandchild would benefit from OT, you can speak with their teachers or school administrators about treatment for the child. You could also seek private OT services in the community for independent treatment. This includes companies and organizations that want to help their employees limit injuries. 

There is so much that occupational therapy can do for an individual and organization that it can’t fit in a small article.

Visit the American Occupational Therapy Association at www.aota.org for additional information on how OT can help you or a loved one live life to the fullest.