To get a better understanding of occupational therapy, it helps to start with the name itself. One definition of “occupation” is “any activity in which a person is engaged”. In other words, “occupational” can relate to anything that ‘occupies’ you day-to-day.
“Therapy” is described as “the treatment of disease or disorders, as by some remedial, rehabilitating, or curative process”. Just like you can treat certain diseases or disorders with medicine, you may also be able to treat them with therapy. A simple example is that you can treat a headache with medication, like aspirin, or with therapy, like massage therapy.
But why would you need therapy to help with your day-to-day activities?
When you put the term ‘Occupational Therapy’ together, it means therapeutic treatment for people who need help performing their daily activities.
Occupational therapists are healthcare professionals who help people with an injury, illness or disability resume or maintain their regular activities. These can include job functions, leisure and social activities, household tasks, mobility issues, caring for themselves and more.
Who Can an Occupational Therapist Help?
Occupational therapists, or OTs, work with people of all ages.
Children & Youth
OTs can help children with learning or behavioural issues and/or those who need skills development.
People with Chronic Diseases or Injuries
Those who have suffered a stroke, brain injury, workplace injury, motor vehicle injury or other condition, resulting in ongoing physical and mental issues that impair their ability to perform daily activities, can get treatment from an OT to return or adapt to job functions and other day-to-day tasks.
Anyone Who has Experienced a Change in their Physical and/or Mental Abilities
Whether it’s a senior citizen who experiences difficulty with memory, or someone who finds it challenging to function because of their anxiety or depression, OTs work with them to understand and cope with their condition and return or adapt to regular activities.
Ultimately, an occupational therapist helps people improve their physical and mental health and wellbeing by enhancing their functioning in daily activities.