What Is Occupational Therapy and How Can It Help Me?

by Delilah Newton | Jun 26, 2020
What is Occupational Therapy? 
People often mistake Occupational Therapy (OT) for treatment only of workers due to the name. However, Occupational Therapists treat patients who have injuries, illnesses, or disabilities throughout the entire lifespan.

Occupational Therapists (OTs) utilize therapeutic use of everyday activities, exercise, modalities, splinting, and education to improve people’s quality of life. Occupational therapy also promotes overall wellness and prevention of further injury and dysfunction.

Occupational therapists (OTs) and Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants (COTAs) provide therapy services in a variety of settings including: hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, home health agencies, extended care facilities, schools, and workplace environments.

OT services typically include: an individualized evaluation, during which the client/family and occupational therapist determine the person’s goals; customized interventions to improve the person’s ability to perform daily activities and reach their goals; and an outcomes evaluation to ensure that the goals are being met and/or changes are made to the treatment plan in order to meet goals.  

How can an Occupational Therapist help me?
OTs and COTAs are licensed health care professionals who can help people improve function and reduce pain. They are highly educated professionals who can teach people how to manage, improve, and even prevent dysfunction in order to achieve optimal function and independence. By gathering a history, performing an examination, and developing an individualized treatment plan, OTs work alongside patients to improve movement and strength, decrease pain, prevent disability, and promote function.

OTs and COTAs provide treatment to meet a variety of patient needs including: balance and vestibular problems, cancer rehabilitation, cardiovascular conditions, pain, musculoskeletal dysfunction, neurologic diseases, developmental disorders, sports injuries, and post-operative rehabilitations.  

OTs can choose to become certified in fields such as gerontology, pediatrics, mental health, physical rehabilitation, hand therapy, and driving and community mobility. Therapists who specialize in gerontology help patients recovering from strokes, general debility, and changes in independence. Pediatric occupational therapists help children learn functional skills, and they assist kids with crawling, walking, and feeding. Hand therapists help patients recover their hand, wrist, elbow, and/or shoulder mobility and strength, control swelling, decrease pain, manage scar tissue, and recover functional use of their arm.

OTs tailor therapy programs to meet an individual’s deficits and functional needs. But more importantly, OTs work to help patients achieve their goals, whether that means returning to a sport, returning to work, being able to do their own self-care, and returning to their hobbies (anything from gardening and knitting to remodeling their home). 

Occupational therapy can improve a patient’s independence, which could increase their confidence and self-esteem. Patients who participate in occupational therapy can gain a greater knowledge of their condition and understand the practical steps they can take to keep themselves safe and active.

If you would like help returning to your normal daily activities, call the Rehabilitation Center at 812-372-3035.

Leave a comment