When you look at the phrase “occupational therapy,”you may think of work therapy. While ‘occupation’does equate to working in some aspects of the therapy, it isn’t the sole goal of treatment. In fact, the word ‘occupation’in this form of treatment encompasses anything from typing to tying shoes –basically anything that’s part of a healthy and productive life.
People with certain conditions have trouble accomplishing these tasks and turn to their doctors for help. As a first course of treatment, the doctor may recommend therapy and medication combined, but if the condition stops a person from performing necessary activities, he may suggest occupational therapy.
What is Occupational Therapy?
Occupational therapy (OT) is a special rehabilitation program used to help people with specialized needs live an independent, productive and satisfying life. An occupational therapist is a licensed and highly skilled professional who works with people of varying conditions and backgrounds to help them perform everyday tasks.
How OT Works to Improve Mental Well-Being
People who are diagnosed with life-changing diseases and those who were born with debilitating handicaps may suffer from depression, anxiety and even PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). These mental conditions can cause a person to lose hope in living a normal life and limit their ability to participate in meaningful activities. They may carry the false belief that their handicap can and will prevent them from learning, working or performing certain activities by themselves. This often results in deeper depression and a worsening in their physical condition.
While it is true that many conditions will prevent a person from performing certain activities, others can be performed with special modifications. This includes everything from exercising to placing items on a shelf. Physical therapy will normally work to improve strength, endurance and coordination in those with handicaps/disabilities, but occupational therapy provides a different kind of benefit.
The goal of OT is to enhance a person’s ability to live a meaningful and satisfying life. The therapist will help the patient attain this by implementing several stages of treatment
The first stage, simply know as “Habit Training,”is designed to teach the patient skills that will help him or her feel more productive. This may include activities such as painting and knitting. These activities are chosen to boost productivity and reduce stress simultaneously.
Additional stages are determined by the treating physician and the occupational therapist after diagnosis and an OT assessment. Some of the more commonly highlighted OT goals include:
- Life skills training
- CBT (Cognitive behavioral therapy)
- Life balance intervention
- Supported education and employment
- Cognitive rehabilitation
It is important to understand that OT is not just reserved for those with physical disabilities; it’s also given to patients with mental conditions, such as schizophrenia and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Elderly people who have been placed in nursing facilities or retirement villages may also use OT to boost their productivity and induce feelings of usefulness and well-being.
This therapy is normally given as a collaborative effort to cure or treat the patient. While OT is being administered, mental therapy, physical therapy and medical treatments may also be needed, depending on the condition.
There isn’t a specific time frame for the treatment to be concluded since it is very dependent on the patient’s progress. In many cases, the treatment is considered a long-term option, which the patient may stop at any time. Often, the patient will begin the treatment aggressively, seeking out multiple sessions per week and then slowly decreasing it to a few sessions per month as the condition improves. This makes OT single-handedly one of the most important forms of treatment for anyone in need of an improved mental state.