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What is Occupational Therapy?

By: Allison Weder

Occupational therapy is the art and science of rehabilitating and re-educating patients who have suffered an injury, illness, or have a disability to return to their daily activities. It pertains to more than someone’s job – occupational therapy includes all the activities a person does from the time they wake up to the time they go to bed.

The Occupational Therapist’s approach to rehabilitation is a holistic one, which includes the entire person and an individual’s functional needs and roles. Occupational Therapists use a client-centered evaluation that identifies deficits in the ability to perform self-care, home management and outside activities. As a part of the evaluation process, Occupational Therapists identify psychosocial, environmental and other factors that may influence rehabilitation outcomes. Occupational Therapists assess a patient’s level of function and develop a treatment plan that is designed to meet the goals and needs of activities such as returning to work or living independently at home.

Some of the health conditions that benefit from occupational therapy include:

  • Work-related injuries or repetitive stress injuries
  • Limitations following a stroke or heart attack
  • Arthritis, multiple sclerosis, or other serious chronic conditions
  • Burns, spinal cord injuries, or amputations
  • Broken bones or other injuries from falls, sports injuries, or accidents

Research shows people who receive occupational therapy interventions are significantly less likely to deteriorate and more likely to be independent in their ability to perform activities of daily living at the end of treatment. Occupational therapy interventions also may be associated with reduced caregiver burden, decreased rates of institutionalization and increased quality of life.

Kim Cochran, OTR, CHT, who is from Advanced Physical Therapy Center, now part of the Phoenix PT Family, says, “We help our patients from keeping their lives on hold. Through treatment and some modifications of daily living, a patient can get back to resuming a normal and productive lifestyle.”