Occupational therapy can help people with varied conditions from injuries, diseases and mental health conditions. Some of those conditions include:
* spinal cord injuries
* cerebral palsy
* muscular dystrophy
* mental illness
* mental retardation
Early intervention therapy services may be provided to infants and toddlers who have, or at the risk of having, developmental delays. Occupational therapy also is beneficial to many seniors. OT can help the elderly lead more productive, active, and independent lives through a variety of methods, including the use of adaptive equipment.
Occupational therapy (OT) involves getting the patient back to functioning successfully in daily living habits and at work. OT helps people who have conditions that are mentally, physically, developmentally, or emotionally disabling. The goal is to help the patient develop, recover, or maintain daily living and work skills. The goal is to not only improve basic motor functions and reasoning abilities, but also to compensate for permanent loss of function.
Occupational therapists work with patients on performing activities of all types, ranging from using a computer to caring for daily needs such as dressing, cooking and eating. Physical exercises may be used to increase strength and dexterity, while other activities may be chosen to improve visual acuity and the ability to discern patterns. For example, a client with short-term memory loss might be encouraged to make lists to aid recall, and a person with coordination problems might be assigned exercises to improve hand-eye coordination. Occupational therapists also use computer programs to help clients improve decision-making, abstract-reasoning, problem-solving and perceptual skills, as well as memory, sequencing and coordination - all of which are important for independent living.
Occupational therapists also work with the elderly and others to assess the home for hazards, and to identify other factors that may contribute to falls.
When dealing with mental health issues, a therapist chooses activities that help people learn to engage in and cope with daily life. Activities include time management skills, budgeting, shopping, homemaking and the use of public transportation. Occupational therapists also may work with individuals who are dealing with alcoholism, drug abuse, depression, eating disorders or stress-related disorders.
An occupational therapist is often involved in teaching those with permanent disabilities how to use what is called adaptive equipment. That includes things such as wheelchairs, orthotics and aids for eating and dressing. They may also be involved in working with a patient and an employer to modify a work area so the patient can perform the tasks required of them. That could include helping design ergonomic workstations for patients with back or neck problems or carpal tunnel syndrome.