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. It also may involve 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. Your occupational therapist may recommend changes in those environments that may 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 are:

  • 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 behavioral issues such as Alzheimer's disease, post-traumatic stress, substance abuse, and eating disorders.

Other Places To Get Help

Organizations

American Occupational Therapy Association
4720 Montgomery Lane, P.O. Box 31220
Bethesda, MD  20824-1220
Phone: (301) 652-2682
Fax: (301) 652-7711
TDD: 1-800-377-8555
Web Address: http://www.aota.org
 

The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) is the nationally recognized professional association of approximately 35,000 occupational therapists, occupational therapy assistants, and students of occupational therapy. AOTA's mission is to advance the quality, availability, use, and support of occupational therapy through standard-setting, advocacy, education, and research on behalf of its members and the public.


KidsHealth for Parents, Children, and Teens
Nemours Home Office
10140 Centurion Parkway
Jacksonville, FL 32256
Phone: (904) 697-4100
Web Address: www.kidshealth.org
 

This website is sponsored by the Nemours Foundation. It has a wide range of information about children's health—from allergies and diseases to normal growth and development (birth to adolescence). This website offers separate areas for kids, teens, and parents, each providing age-appropriate information that the child or parent can understand. You can sign up to get weekly emails about your area of interest.


References

Other Works Consulted

  • U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (2012–2013). Occupational therapists. In Occupational Outlook Handbook. Available online: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/occupational-therapists.htm.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Joan Rigg, PT, OCS - Physical Therapy
Last Revised March 7, 2013

Last Revised: March 7, 2013

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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