1) What is occupational therapy? What do occupational therapists do?
Occupational therapy is a sought-after allied health profession that helps people more fully engage in the occupations, or activities, they find meaningful and necessary in everyday life.
People with disability often find occupational therapy to be effective in making it possible to participate in the daily activities that are important to them.
Sometimes the meaning of the term “occupation” is confused with work-related treatment, when in fact it describes all the routine things that people do to occupy their time and create meaning in life.
Getting dressed, making meals, working, learning, writing, getting around, volunteering, shopping, being part of a community or making friends, are all daily tasks that most of us need and like to do.
Occupational therapists work with people of all ages and abilities to find out what they want to do and develop practical techniques and assistance to achieve their goals.
2) What are some examples of occupational therapy in action?
Occupational therapists work with people in many different situations who face difficulties and challenges participating in everyday activities.
They work with people with live with intellectual and physical disability and developmental delays, physical illnesses and injuries, mental health disorders and emotional problems.
Examples of situations where occupational therapy can help include:
- A young adult facing life with a disability such as Cerebral Palsy may find it difficult to sleep without developing pressure sores. An occupational therapist will work with her to identify the right pressure care mattress to help her sleep safely and peacefully.
- A teenage boy may have trouble putting his shoes on by himself, and writing his name. The occupational therapist will work closely with him to develop his fine motor skills through play-based therapy so he can become more independent in his life.
3) What are the benefits of occupational therapy?
Occupational therapists can help people improve their independence in day-to-day activities and to live functionally.
They’ll develop an individual treatment program, based on the personal goals of their patient, and taking into consideration the situation and needs of their family.
The treatment program will improve the abilities of the patient in a variety of ways, depending on their individual goals. The occupational therapist may provide:
- Help with motor development to improve the ability to dress, shower, eat, and groom
- Support to participate in activities at work or school, such as writing
- Help with techniques to self-regulate for people with behavioural disorders
- Support to perform household management such as cleaning and budgeting
- Support to make driving possible
- Identification and purchase of mobility equipment such as wheelchairs and ramps
- Information to help with confidence building and social participation
- Help to improve hand eye coordination to improve ability in sports and leisure activities
4) What conditions can benefit from occupational therapy and treatment?
Occupational therapy helps patients with fine motor skills (smaller movements such as picking up objects between the thumb and finger), visual-perceptual skills (the brain’s ability to make sense of what the eyes see), cognitive skills (thinking), and sensory-processing problems (over sensitivity to things in the environment).
The following disabilities and conditions can benefit from occupational therapy treatment:
- Birth injuries or defects
- Traumatic injuries to the brain or spinal cord
- Developmental delays or learning problems
- Multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy
- Spina Bifida
- Chronic illnesses and pain
- Autism or sensory processing disorders
- Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
- Mental health or behavioural problems
- Hand or foot injuries
- Memory disorders
- Broken bones or other orthopedic injuries
5) Where do occupational therapists work?
Occupational therapists work in a wide range of private and public settings. In addition to residential properties, our in-home occupational therapists also attend community health centres, schools, public and private hospitals, rehabilitation centres, mental health clinics, private practices, government departments, alcohol and drug centres, and aged care facilities.
Ability Action Australia also has occupational therapists all over Australia, including in regional areas. Click here to find a clinic or service area near you.
If you would like further information or to speak to us, please contact our friendly concierge service on 1800 238 958 or complete the request contact form and we will contact you at a time that suits you best.