Occupational Therapy

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Occupational Therapy

Overview

Occupational therapy is treatment to help people live as independently as possible. Occupational therapists work with people of all ages who, because of illness, injury, developmental delays, or psychological problems, need assistance in learning skills to help them lead independent, productive, and satisfying lives. Occupational therapists use work, self-care, and recreational activities to increase independent function.

Occupational therapy can include:

  • Assistance and training in performing daily activities. Depending on your needs, these could be:
    • Personal care activities. Two examples are dressing and eating.
    • Home skills. Some examples are housekeeping, gardening, and cooking.
    • Personal management skills. Two examples are balancing a checkbook and keeping a schedule.
    • Skills important in driving a car or other motor vehicle. Occupational therapy may be involved in the vision, thinking, and judgment skills needed for driving, as well as in finding out whether special adaptations such as hand brakes are needed.
  • Physical exercises, to increase good posture and joint motion as well as overall strength and flexibility.
  • Instruction in protecting your joints and conserving your energy.
  • Evaluation of your daily living needs and assessment of your home and work environments, with recommendations for changes in those environments that will help you continue your activities.
  • Assessment and training in the use of assistive devices. Examples are special key-holders for people who have stiff hands, computer-aided adaptive equipment, and wheelchairs.
  • Fitting splints or braces.
  • Guidance for family members and caregivers.

Examples of the many different conditions and situations in which occupational therapy can help include:

  • Mental and physical impairments a person has had since birth.
  • Recovery and return to work after a work-related injury.
  • Sudden serious health conditions such as a stroke, heart attack, brain injury, or amputation.
  • Chronic (ongoing) conditions, such as arthritis, multiple sclerosis, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • Learning disabilities or developmental disabilities.
  • Mental health or behavioural issues such as Alzheimer's disease, post-traumatic stress, substance abuse, and eating disorders.

Other Places To Get Help

Organization

Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT)
CTTC Building, Suite 3400, 1125 Colonel By Drive
Ottawa, ON  K1S 5R1
Phone: (613) 523-2268
1-800-434-2268 (toll-free from Canada and continental U.S.)
Fax: (613) 523-2552
Web Address: http://www.caot.ca/

References

Other Works Consulted

  • U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (2008-2009). Occupational therapists. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Available online: http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos078.htm.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD, MD - Family Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Andrew Swan, MD, CCFP, FCFP - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer David A. Fleckenstein, PT, MPT - Physical Therapy
Last Revised April 22, 2011

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