What is Occupational Therapy?
We all have encountered situations where the normal development or functioning of an individual is compromised. This could be as a result of a traumatic experience, medical condition or other reasons. The individual may be dealing with a physical or mental challenge or even both and they will need help in adjusting so as to fit in with the rest of society. There are various kinds of therapy that will be employed as per the person’s progresses and needs. Occupational therapy is one kind of therapy that is internationally accepted as an effective means of helping people achieve regardless of the challenges they may be facing.
Occupational therapy simply involves the use of everyday activities to empower and enable individuals who may be facing various forms of physical or mental challenges. Occupational therapy is aimed at achieving increased development, adaptation, independence, improved quality of life and also to prevent deteriorating of the current condition. It will normally involve work, self care and leisure. Here work does not necessarily mean a commercial undertaking but rather an activity that will require mental as well as physical effort. Self care will involve activities such as grooming, eating, sleeping and toileting. Leisure involves a time during which the individual is able to decide what activities to engage in such as socializing, reading, writing or travel.
There are several reasons why people may need occupational therapy. Some people are born with developmental disorders and as such will require help in overcoming certain challenges. There are others who may have suffered traumatic physical or mental injury and will also need help in overcoming the conditions that may arise. Occupational therapy could also be required after a serious illness that may have affected normal functioning. Some of the elderly members of society may also require help in dealing with the challenges that come with advancing age.
Occupational therapy approaches for all the various groups is different and each particular group will have a unique program. Children and adults will not be taken through a similar occupational therapy program. For children, therapy will focus more on play and academics where as for adults it will involve work and other activities such as sports. It will also be different as per the level of challenge and also whether it is a mental or physical challenge that is being dealt with. It can be offered in an institution or at home depending on each particular situation and the required facilities. Occupational therapy will help the person learn new ways of doing things, how to use various equipment and aids that will help them achieve more and depend on others less, learn how to overcome obstacles that may have not been anticipated and most importantly to realize that a fulfilling life is still achievable despite the challenges they may be facing.
Occupational therapy is available in many medical institutions and is an important step in making life more meaningful for those who are challenged, their families as well as society.