Occupational therapy aims to improve function and independence in patients with disabilities and limitations. The patients in need of occupational therapy are many and varied: people who, after surviving an accident, need to go back to work; people who are born with disabilities; special children who need help with functional independence through play; and others. Occupational therapy involves performing exercises that may be repetitive in nature. These so-called “meaningful” activities are geared toward improving both function and mobility simultaneously.
Occupational therapists are not always found in hospitals, although that’s usually where they start. They are involved in any field that has something to do with motion, body movements and functional use of the different muscles. Athletes who have suffered injury hire personal therapists for their recovery. If someone who was born with a disability wants to do strength training, a gym instructor with a background in occupational therapy is often hired to help out.
In general, occupational therapy encompasses treatment procedures that help patients overcome their limitations. For instance, if a patient wants to improve upper extremity strength and motion range because he finds himself in a wheelchair after an accident, an occupational therapist can be of help. Occupational therapy is often applied to muscle builders and specialized athletes in rehabilitation after serious injuries that make them unable to remain as athletes. The procedures involved in the therapy are personalized according to the needs and goals of the patient.
Occupational therapy goals are not limited to what the textbooks say. A therapist must understand that the goals of the treatment program he has in mind should coincide with those of the person he or she is treating. In fact, it would do the patient a world of good if he brings along his occupational therapist when he goes shopping for exercise equipment. There are many things an occupational therapist can suggest that may not occur to those who are still in recovery.
For treating kids with special needs, the therapist has to come up with a unique treatment plan. He should work in collaboration with a development specialist in order to give the special child individualized care. Adapting environments and situations is crucial to children with mental disabilities, and that’s where occupational therapy comes in.
Occupational therapists look for the best solutions with the patient’s comfort in mind. It is a misconception that occupational therapy is always painful. A professional therapist must be able to justify why he chose a particular procedure for a patient, so that the family and the patient himself understand what’s involved and can therefore prepare accordingly.