What is Occupational Therapy?
I get this question often.
What is Occupational Therapy? Your Answer From An Occupational Therapist
What we do for a living becomes a big part of our identities.
Whether you work part-time, full-time or all-the-time as a mom, a huge amount of your energy is dedicated to your “occupation”.
My occupation happens to be Occupational Therapy.
Most of the time, in conversation, I get blank stares when I tell people that I’m an Occupational Therapist.
So what is Occupational Therapy?
What is Occupational Therapy?
In a nutshell, Occupational Therapists help people become as independent, safe and successful in their own “occupations” as possible.
Now, the way I use the term “occupation” may not always be defined in the traditional sense.
A child’s “occupation” is play and school activities.
Whereas, an older adult’s “occupation” may be more focused on self-care and mobility.
And a mom’s “occupation” may be caring for herself and her family.
Occupational Therapists, or O.T.’s, work in a variety of settings.
We work in mainstream & special ed schools, patient’s homes, hospitals, rehab facilities, nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, and outpatient settings.
All disabilities and diagnoses from birth to old age can utilize Occupational Therapy services.
How Can An Occupational Therapist Help Me?
But, how exactly does an Occupational Therapist help someone in need?
It all boils down to one goal – facilitating a person’s optimal independence and functioning.
We do this so that the patient may live as fulfilling a life as possible.
What Is Occupational Therapy For A Senior Citizen?
Take the example of an 80 year old woman, who lives by herself.
She may be having an increasingly difficult time functioning and performing daily activities.
An Occupational Therapist may work with this woman in her own home.
The O.T. can assess what her needs are and engage her in strengthening activities.
We can also show her adaptive devices to make some of her daily tasks easier and safer.
In addition, we will educate her on ways to conserve her energy so she is able to get through her day and do everything she needs to do.
Finally, the O.T. will recommend ways to modify her home for optimal safety.
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What Is Occupational Therapy For A Student?
Another example would be when an Occupational Therapist works with a student who may have difficulties with handwriting.
The student may struggle with proper grasp of a pencil, staying within margins, and cutting.
They may also have difficulty sitting still in the classroom or participating in school activities.
The Occupational Therapist may adapt the student’s pencil to promote an optimal grip/grasp.
We may also make recommendations to the teacher and parents regarding home activities for hand strengthening and increased fine motor ability.
In addition, the O.T. can recommend modifications in the classroom to help a student with sensory-processing issues.
These are just two examples of how Occupational Therapy is able to help people.
The Occupational Therapy Profession is Rewarding & Flexible
Not only is the service of Occupational Therapy so valuable, but the profession of Occupational Therapy is very rewarding and fulfilling.
It is one of the most flexible and varied jobs that I know of.
In my case, when I started my career 16 years ago, I worked full-time in a nursing home.
Then, I worked full-time in a hospital.
When I became pregnant with my first son, I was able to change from full-time to part-time.
And when I had my son, I became an “as-needed” therapist so I could spend more time with him at home.
I eventually went back to part-time and worked in home health.
And now I am working part-time in a school setting and consulting in a medically fragile day program for developmentally delayed adults.
So, from the standpoint of a career, Occupational Therapy is ideal.
What Questions Do You Have For An Occupational Therapist?
This post is SO general on what Occupational Therapy is, what the service can offer, and the perks of being an O.T.
I welcome any questions or comments about Occupational Therapy.
If you have ANY questions regarding how O.T. may help – please don’t hesitate to ask me.
I’ve always been of the belief that if I don’t know the answer or if I can’t help you, then I will lead you to someone who can.
I will periodically write posts on specific diagnoses or situations, so if you have any requests then throw ’em out there 🙂
You can also go to the website for the American Occupational Therapy Association for more information.
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