Living with any form of physical or mental disability is never an easy experience for the parties involved – the individual with the disability and the family and friends providing support to the person in question. Some conditions necessitate that a person learns and relearns coping skills to attain the highest possible level of functioning at home, school, or work to gain a good measure of independence for themselves and lighten the load of those dedicated to assisting them. This is precisely what the practice of Occupational Therapy strives to achieve for the disabled and their families.
WHAT IS OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY?
Occupational therapy is a specialty of healthcare that aims to improve an individual’s ability to partake in meaningful, goal-oriented, and purposeful activity through a series of therapeutic assessments and interventions. Essentially, this branch of medicine equips people of all ages with the life skills needed to do the things they need and want to do despite their disabilities. From regaining fine motor skills to increased performance in the workplace, kids, youth, and the elderly can greatly benefit from this form of therapy.
The most important goals which occupational therapy seeks to achieve include:
- To establish or restore the ability to function independently in daily living activities such as bathing, dressing up, feeding oneself, etc.
- To improve cognitive function so patients can acquire problem-solving skills, boost memory function, learn nonverbal cues, etc.
- To mitigate the factors that reduce a person’s ability to function in occupational activities
- To help those disabled in one way or the other make the best possible recovery
- To promote and maintain overall health
WHO NEEDS OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY?
Regardless of age or gender, any person restricted by a physical or mental disability will greatly benefit from this form of therapy. This is because this holistic approach to management addresses cognitive, physical, and functional limitations and how to overcome as many of them as possible.
If you have any relatives or friends that have been diagnosed with any of these conditions, occupational therapy could be of great benefit to them:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Cerebral palsy
- Autism spectrum disorders
- Spinal cord injury
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
- Visual impairments
- Mental and behavioral disorders, including depression, anxiety, substance abuse, etc.
- Joint replacement
- Multiple sclerosis
- Down’s syndrome
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF OCCUPATIONAL THERAPISTS?
The licensed and trained personnel that help patients through this form of therapy are aptly known as occupational therapists. Because of the wide range of people who need their services, occupational therapists can be found working in various medical specialties, including neurology, pediatrics, orthopedics, mental health, and geriatrics. Fondly referred to as OTs, they are assisted by occupational therapy assistants (OTAs), and together, they work with patients and their families to stimulate and restore them as much independence and functionality as their disability will allow.
The specific roles of the occupational therapist and their assistant can be summarized under the following bullet points:
- ASSESSMENT: The therapist’s job often begins with a detailed assessment and evaluation of the patient’s current abilities, skills, and needs. An inspection of the patient’s physical and social environment is also conducted to make beneficial changes and adjustments.
- PLANNING: It is up to the OT to draw up a treatment plan on which the patient will be commenced in earnest. This is done in tandem with the patient, family, teachers, doctors, nurses, and other caregivers. The plan must be achievable and realistic regarding the expected outcome and the timeframe for achieving these goals.
- TREATMENT: Client-centered and goal-oriented therapeutic interventions are initiated step wisely to bring the patient closer to independence, improved functioning, and healthy living.
The field of occupational therapy has made so many advancements in the last few decades, which has helped improve the lives of children, adults, and older people living with a disability. If you or your loved one is ever in need of occupational therapy services, call or book an appointment with Countryside Home Healthcare as soon as possible.