Occupational Therapy Overview
Occupational therapy (OT) is a health-care profession that uses occupation, or meaningful activity, to help people achieve independence and lead productive and satisfying lives. Occupational therapists form a dynamic and collaborative partnership with service recipients in order to support their maximal participation in societal roles. The uniqueness of occupational therapy lies in the recognition and appreciation of the importance of day-to-day occupations that are used to positively influence one’s health and well-being.
People of all ages who have difficulty performing daily activities due to physical, psychological, emotional, or developmental problems can benefit from occupational therapy services on an individual basis or as members of a group or community. Examples of service provision include the following:
- A child born with a congenital or developmental disability may need assistance in developing feeding, playing, and motor skills
- Adolescents who have learning disabilities or behavior problems may need group support to increase attention span, cope with frustration, and develop social skills
- An adult who has a chronic progressive condition such as arthritis, multiple sclerosis, or heart disease may need to increase functional independence
- A person who is elderly and has difficulty functioning due to depression or degenerative changes may need to improve quality of life and level of life satisfaction
- An information technology company whose employees have experienced work-related repetitive stress injuries may need to consult with an occupational therapist to determine how their employees’ computer work stations can be redesigned to prevent future injuries.
Occupational therapy practitioners are skilled professionals whose education includes the study of human growth and development with specific emphasis on the social, emotional, and physiological effects of illness and injury and the concomitant benefits of engagement in occupation. Occupational therapists need to be people-focused as well as art- and science-oriented. They must be well-educated in the functions of mind, body, and spirit.