Occupational Therapists are health professionals who help people participate in the daily activities that are part of life. Their professional goal is to enable their clients to perform tasks of daily living. This may include helping someone with a physical disability, recovering from an injury, or learning new skills for employment.
Occupational therapy can be provided in various ways, including individual sessions and group classes both at home and in the community. Occupational therapists use a variety of means to help clients, including providing specialized equipment and teaching compensatory strategies. They may also provide support for families providing care to family members. Occupational therapists also work with the elderly in long-term care facilities or at home, helping them manage their environment to live safely.
In this role, an occupational therapist might assess an elderly person’s living situation. They ensure that they have all the equipment needed to get around safely; recommend ways of reducing hazards in the house; show how to do routine chores like washing dishes more safely; improve mobility by making sure there is adequate lighting and good flooring throughout the house; teach people exercises (like maintaining their balance or ton muscles) that can be done throughout the day; discuss what sort of care might be needed for a person with dementia, and how the family can best provide that help.
Occupational therapists may also work in schools, helping students to manage their environment so they can learn more effectively; counseling kids who are having difficulty coping with disabilities; doing home visits to families where children have special needs, or consulting with teachers on how they can adapt materials or their classroom activities to make them more accessible for different kinds of learners.
An occupational therapist helps people of all ages, from preschoolers to seniors, manage independence daily due to mental, physical, developmental, or emotional problems. For example, you can go to an occupational therapist if you have a developmental delay, a neurological condition such as a stroke or Parkinson’s disease, a chronic illness like arthritis or diabetes, an injury to your head or spine, or if you’re going through physical changes following pregnancy. Occupational therapy can also help children who have learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder (ADD). Occupational therapists see many kids whose primary diagnosis is ADD and those with other diagnoses.
In the case of mental illness, an OT may teach behavioral strategies for managing symptoms of depression, anxiety disorders, and schizophrenia; work on social skills with someone recovering from addiction, or do special training activities to improve independence in daily living skills for people experiencing early dementia.