What is an occupational therapist?
Occupational therapists (OTs) work with people of all ages to overcome challenges that impact their ability to do the things that they want to do, need to do, or are expected to do in their daily lives.
The main goal that OTs focus on is to help people regain independence and return to doing all of the things in their lives, also known as "occupations." Keep in mind, “occupations” does not only refer to your job, but to all of the meaningful things that you do in your everyday life. These can include:
- Self-care: dressing, toileting, bathing, eating
- Leisure: playing sports, gardening, socializing
- Productivity: going to work, school, volunteering
How can an OT help you?
- They can help patients avoid unnecessary hospital stays and re-admissions and premature moves to a nursing home
- They can prevent work injuries due to an improper workplace set up
- OT's can help reduce school dropout rates due to poor attention spans or reading and writing difficulties
- Help people with a developmental disability or a mental illness find meaningful employment
Do you experience discomfort from sitting at your desk all day while you work? Reach out to your occupational therapist for an ergonomic assessment to have your workstation looked at to ensure correct working postures and set-up.
What is the value of an OT?
OTs focus on the whole person. They look at a person’s:
- Physical abilities (strength, balance, coordination)
- Mental abilities (memory, coping strategies, organizational skills)
- Devices and equipment being used (furniture, utensils, tools, clothes)
- Support systems (family, friends)
- Physical setup of the environment (home, classroom, workplace)
Depending on what the challenge is, OTs work with people to:
- Help them overcome their disability (e.g., through providing education and overcoming driving anxiety after an accident)
- Adapt the devices and equipment being used (e.g., special tools that help prevent injury to hands and back at work)
- Recommend changes to the environment (e.g., changing the physical layout of your workspace to accommodate your ergonomic needs)
Where do OTs work?
OTs are commonly known to work in hospitals and clinics, but they also work in community mental health centers, physiotherapy clinics, home care, and in health promotion. Occupational therapists can also work virtually, depending on the scope of treatment.
Occupational therapists can help you get back to doing all the things that you love doing in your daily life. Remember, anything you do in your life is considered an “occupation” and that’s why you need an occupational therapist!
This blog was written by Elise Kopman & Reem Al-Kas, 2nd year OT students at University of Western Ontario