Modern occupational therapy has been around since the early 1900s. And since then it has been helping people of all ages live better lives.
Occupational therapists work with people that have physical or cognitive difficulties. The goal of occupational therapy is to make the activities of daily living easier.
Unfortunately, not many people know about occupational therapy and how it works. Read below to learn about occupational therapy and its many benefits.
Occupational therapy is the practice of assisting a person to perform certain activities of daily life. These activities might include bathing and dressing or problem solving and communicating clearly. Occupational therapy is personalized based on the needs of the patient.
Occupational therapists use activities, exercises, and environmental changed. Through these processes individuals learn new skills, improve existing skills, or regain skills they may have lost.
To become an occupational therapist, one must have a masters degree in occupational therapy. Most often, occupational therapists also have an undergraduate degree in a related field (biology, human physiology, exercise science, etc.).
When an occupational therapist meets with a new patient they will usually perform an evaluation. The result of the evaluation will help them make an individualized plan for the patient. Sometimes the therapist will also meet with the patient's family to talk about things the family could do to support the patient's journey.
A person may have therapy sessions for a short time (a few weeks) or a longer time (several years). The therapist and the patient continue to measure progress and set goals towards the daily activities that are most important to the patient.
Now that you have a better understanding of occupational therapy and therapists, let's dive into some of the incredible benefits of occupational therapy.
Children with physical or mental disabilities may need extra support when it comes to education. Occupational therapists can support learning for children that may struggle in a classroom environment.
Children working with occupational therapists will learn in ways that best suit their individual needs. If you have a child with special needs, an occupational therapist can also help you! They can teach you how best to teach your child new skills or information.
With support from a therapist, children of all ability levels can learn important life-long skills.
For older adults, aging can mean a loss of independence. Family or loved ones may worry about an older adult falling or injuring themself while at home alone. Or, they may be concerned about an older adult's recovery from a fall or a stroke.
Occupational therapists can help restore independence by working with older adults on their physical and cognitive health. Specifically, a therapist can work on hygiene tasks like taking a bath, going to the bathroom, or brushing one's teeth. They might also help an individual learn to prepare food for themselves or pay their bills.
The therapist will work with the individual to develop the skills that are most important for the individual's daily life.
Some people think of occupational therapists as working only with physical health conditions but they can help with mental health too, including memory.
Memory problems are common among older adults, but they are not inevitable. Working with an occupational therapist can help prevent memory loss or enhance memory function.
Occupational therapists uses memory games and puzzles to help patients strengthen memory. An occupational therapist cannot cure dementia or Alzheimer's but they can make suggestions to improve a person's quality of life.
Because occupational therapists focus on daily activities, they often work with individuals and families to make home modifications. A person with a disability may need specific equipment to improve their ability to function in the home. The therapist may also recommend a particular layout for a room or even certain colors for different objects in the house.
The therapist can train an individual or their caregiver on how to use or install home modifications too. Some of these modifications may include a walk-in bathtub or shower, a wheelchair ramp, or additional handrails through the house.
Another occupational therapy benefit is their ability to provide guidance and training for caregivers. Parents of children with disabilities or children with elderly parents often rely on an occupational therapist for guidance.
Therapists will help caregivers understand the condition and the therapy plan. They will provide guidance and education on how the caregiver can best support the individual and what to expect during his or her journey.
Occupational therapists work with individuals with visual impairments. Through home modifications and training they can help make life easier for those that have diminished vision.
An occupational therapist may recommend color-coded labels or magnification tools to promote better visibility around a person's home or office.
The therapist cannot restore perfect vision but they can help a person live a happier, less stressful life despite their vision challenges.
Above all, occupational therapists are some of the most selfless people in the healthcare community. They care about their patients and show compassion and patience when working with the individual and their family.
Occupational therapists are trusted professionals that family or friends can talk to if they have questions or concerns about supporting a loved one that may have a physical or cognitive condition.
Occupational therapy can also improve a person's mood and confidence because they feel accomplished and supported by their therapist.
Hopefully you have learned about occupational therapy and the wonderful things occupational therapists do to help people live happier, healthier, more independent lives.
Unlike traditional healthcare models, occupational therapists work with the whole person, not just the signs or symptoms of their condition.
If you think that you or a loved one could benefit from working with an occupational therapist, contact us today - we look forward to speaking with you.