What is Occupational Therapy?

What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapy helps patients regain daily living skills that are necessary for everyday activities. Occupational Therapy has been in existence for at least as long as 1917, when it officially became a profession. Created initially to help engage those with mental illness with their professions, it has since evolved to become much more than that. OT allows patients to participate in every day “occupations” in their setting, encouraging them to find purpose. An “occupation” includes any activity that an individual wants or needs to participate in during daily life. This can include anything from getting dressed and preparing a meal to walking or driving a car.

An individual can receive therapy at any stage of their life and any age. Occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants are trained to provide care to patients with varying conditions and needs. Some conditions that occupational therapy may benefit include:

  1. Stroke

  2. Traumatic brain injury or spinal cord injury

  3. Fracture, amputation and other orthopedic impairment

  4. Post-surgery recovery, such as hip or knee replacement

  5. Arthritis, tendonitis and repetitive motion injuries

  6. Learning or behavioral problems

  7. Sensory processing disorders

  8. Other diseases that affect motor skills

Where can we get occupational therapy?

Occupational therapy can be received in various settings, including skilled nursing facilities, hospitals, outpatient clinics, and even in the home. Clinicians of Cornerstone Rehab work primarily in skilled nursing facilities providing care to older adults who need therapy services. Patients in nursing facilities can also benefit from other services during their stay, including nursing care and meals. They may also have the option of utilizing rehab equipment and specialized modalities provided in the facility, which a patient may not have in the home. Cornerstone Rehab also offers physical therapy and speech-language therapy in addition to occupational therapy services.

Why do we need occupational therapy?

Occupational therapy allows people to live a better life by promoting health, preventing injury and overcoming illnesses. For older adults, occupational therapy interventions help them recover from surgeries and/or live better with illnesses or disabilities. Clinicians create personalized health care plans to provide support to older adults who are experiencing cognitive and physical deficits that may come with age, illness or injury. Occupational therapists take a holistic approach which includes taking a patient’s environment and task into consideration when providing care.

Occupational therapy can help with both gross and fine motor skills. Gross motor skills involve the large muscles in the arms, legs and torso that help with strength, balance, coordination and endurance. This can affect activities such as walking, climbing stairs, jumping, etc. Fine motor skills involve the small hand muscles in the hand and wrist used to make precise movements. Older adults may have difficulty controlling finer hand movements due to a lack of strength, dexterity and motor control. Some activities that benefit from this kind of targeted therapy include cooking, writing, eating, etc. Learn more about how occupational therapy works and why it’s important here

Is Occupational Therapy a good field? Is Occupational Therapy a good job?

If you’re wondering whether to get into the occupational therapy field, it’s always good to understand the purpose and why the profession exists. As a therapist, you will be doing work to help others, and that alone can be a motivator for many. Knowing that a growing number of older adults are reaching their 80s and 90s is proof that the profession is likely to be around for a long time, with a growing number of therapists needed to meet the patient demand. If you’re not sure, you can also consider being a COTA (Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant) and work under an occupational therapist.

Clinicians of Cornerstone Rehab specialize in providing expert therapy to patients recovering from various illnesses.  Learn more here about Cornerstone Rehab careers here.