Occupational Therapy aims at helping individuals across the lifespan participate in the activities they want to do or need to do. Occupational Therapy is based on the therapeutic use of everyday activities. Occupational therapists help children participate fully in play, school activities and self-care tasks. They help clients recover from injury and regain or enhance their daily lives after specific events (diseases, accidents, mental illness, old age...). Occupational therapists assess and modify clients’ homes and community environments to ensure accessibility and improve their safety and independence.
Occupational therapists prescribe and educate clients and carers in the use of adaptive equipment to assist function. Occupational Therapy is a holistic approach that includes the clients in every step of the therapy program and helps them improve their confidence and self-esteem in social situations.
Occupational therapists work on some of the following areas:
Sensory integration therapy aims to help kids with sensory processing difficulties (hyper-responsiveness and hypo-responsiveness) by exposing them to sensory stimulation in a structured, gradual and repetitive way to nervous system to respond in a more – organized - way to sensory inputs such as movement, touch, pressure, auditory, olfactive and oral/tactile inputs.
Gross motor development in children
Gross motor skills allow children to perform activities, such as walking, running, climbing, participating in sports, ball skills, etc. Moreover, these skills are extremely important for the participation in daily living and learning/school tasks such as reading and writing, mealtime and fine motor activities such as drawing and cutting.
School-based Occupational Therapy
School-based occupational therapy promotes academic achievement and social participation in all school routines, including recess, classroom, and canteen. This allows children to accomplish their role as students. The therapist also works on improving academic related skills such as, ability to sit and attend in class, handwriting skills, scissor skills and visual motor and perceptual skills.
The underlying skills for handwriting include sensory processing, posture, visual motor integration, spatial perception, eye hand coordination, fine motor skills, pencil grasp, motor planning and organization. The therapists work with the child, parents and teacher to help the child achieve legible handwriting by assessing readiness, identifying difficulties and chosing the convenient handwriting program and correct approach and equipment for each child.
Motor Planning and Coordination
Children and adults may present difficulties in movement skills such as coordination (the ability to use both sides of the body at the same time) and motor planning (the ability of the brain to conceive, organize, and carry out a sequence of unfamiliar action). These difficulties may result from developmental problems, brain injury or stroke. The occupational therapist works on restoring and maintaining these skills through the therapeutic use of activities and/or the implementation of palliative strategies and adaptation.
Accessibility and home/workplace modification
Seniors and disabled people require environment modifications and adjustments to meet their mobility and positioning needs. The occupational therapist helps older or disabled people live in a safe place and stay happy and productive in their communities by reducing the disabling effects of the physical environment and eliminating barriers at home and workplace.
Self-care includes all the tasks an individual does throughout the day to look after his or herself: personal care, functional mobility, and community management. Occupational therapists assess the person’s ability to complete a task then based on the evaluation, the intervention may focus on improving the individual’s skills, adapting the environment, or modifying the task to enable the person to achieve functional independence.
An assistive device is a piece of equipment or a product system that can be purchased or manufactured, modified to be used with a person with disability to increase, maintain, or improve his/her mobility or functional independence. The occupational therapist evaluates the person’s abilities, limitations and physical environment before prescribing the suitable device. The occupational therapist provides training in devices for individuals and caregivers if needed.