Before we start talking about occupational therapy, let’s understand what an occupation is. Occupation refers to the daily activities that individuals do – at work, at home, and in society that make them feel fulfilled and occupies their time. Things that people need to do, want to do, and are expected to do (duties) are all included in the ambit of occupation.
What Is Occupational Therapy?
Occupational therapy is a therapy that aims to promote the health and well-being of an individual through occupation. The chief goal of this therapy is to help people lead normal lives comfortably. You could say that occupational therapy supports people to lead independent lives. It can be beneficial for people of all ages.
What Is an Occupational Therapist?
The professional who helps individuals become independent by working with them is called an occupational therapist. They modify either the activity or the environment to help individuals improve their ability to perform their daily activities and support their occupational engagement.
Let’s say your mobility is limited because of a medical condition. The duties of an occupational therapist include suggesting exercises and activities or recommending some changes in your lifestyle in order to help you perform your daily activities as independently as possible.
Where Do Occupational Therapists Work?
Occupational therapists work in several environments and with all age groups.
Homes and Communities: This includes private practices, home care, community mental health centers, community action groups, health boards, halfway and group homes, worker’s compensation boards, and vocational programs.
Institutions: Hospitals, nursing homes, mental health centers, recreation centers, care facilities, recreation centers, correctional institutions, research centers, and educational institutions.
Industry: All kinds of businesses, corporations, and offices, whether the employees engage in physical work or not as part of their daily duties.
Government: Advisories in the areas of health promotion, management, and prevention of disabilities, health or vocational planning, accessibility, rehabilitation, and so on.
How Do Occupational Therapists Work?
Occupational therapists have the responsibility of helping patients in their recovery and improvement with regard to a health condition or injury, regaining mobility, and maintaining skills required to carry out everyday activities.
Occupational therapy practitioners have a more or less standardized process of work. Though, of course, some minor changes could be there for individual therapists, these are the common steps:
The first step is assessing the individual; they may perform several assessments to get a crystal clear picture of the problems the individual is facing, the environment in which they work and live, and the daily activities the individual performs. There are standard procedures, observations, and interviews in a multitude of settings, as well as discussions with important people in the individual’s life – family, friends, co-workers, etc.
On the basis of the assessments, the occupational therapist will make both short-term and long-term plans. These plans should be aligned with the patient’s habits, lifestyle, age, roles, environment, and so on. They recommend making certain adaptations to help them be more independent.
Person-centric, environmental programs are referred to as interventions. They are designed in such a manner as to make it possible for the individual to perform their daily tasks independently and comfortably and also adapt to the environment in which the individual lives, socializes, and works. This could take the form of innovative techniques or the provision of equipment to help the patient be independent in personal care, decrease environmental obstacles, and offer resources that can mitigate their stress.
Occupational therapists work closely with families, caregivers, volunteers, doctors, and other professionals for a holistic approach in the treatment of the individual who needs therapy.
The everyday tasks that occupational therapists participate in are usually impacted by the environment in which they work. Though most therapists work in healthcare settings – private practices, hospitals, nursing homes, and the like. They also do work in other environments like homes, schools, rehab centers, workplaces, and so on. From a young child to an elderly person, any individual may require occupational therapy. Occupational therapy services are provided by Lana Life Care and can be availed of at home, school, or work.
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Occupational therapists normally come from many backgrounds, but they need many important skills and qualities to be successful at their work. It goes without saying that these professionals need a lot of patience, compassion, empathy, dedication, and the ability to put their patients first, thinking from their point of view. Only then will occupational therapists be able to improve the lives of their patients.
At Lana Life Care, we ensure that our professionals have all these skills before we allow them to work with patients. Having the desire to make a real difference in the lives of patients going through a difficult time.
Additionally, occupational therapy professionals should have these skills to be successful in their work:
It is essential for occupational therapists to be skilled in both verbal and written skills so that they can get a clear understanding of their patients’ requirements. They should also be able to explain the treatment process properly and reassure the patients. Therapists should also be able to document the treatment plans that were formulated, and the patient’s progress, and collaborate with doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals.
Every case will be unique; each individual has their own problems and abilities. Therefore, a good occupational therapist must have the skill to solve problems effectively, allowing them to declare the best course of action or steps for every situation that may arise in the patient’s life.
Patience and Flexibility
Occupational therapy is usually required for a prolonged period; restoring an individual’s independence is not an easy task by a long shot. They are likely to be mentally down, lose their self-confidence, and be anxious about everything. Occupational therapists have to be extremely patient so that they can handle the good and the bad throughout the course of the therapy and be flexible enough to adapt to sudden changes in the patient’s behavior, circumstances, etc.
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What Is an Occupational Therapy Assistant?
Occupational therapy assistants, as the name suggests, act as assistants to occupational therapists, supporting them in the delivery of occupational therapy services. They work in almost the same environments where occupational therapists work – homes, clinics, hospitals, workplaces, educational institutions, etc. They play an important role in supporting and implementing plans for patient care. OTAs, as they are called, interact directly with patients and use their skills for the betterment of patients’ lives. They may work as a partner of the occupational therapists, or by themselves, depending on the requirement of individual patients.
When Do You Need Occupational Therapy?
Occupational therapy may be recommended in the following cases:
- For patients with stroke, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, trauma to the brain, multiple sclerosis, and other medical conditions that impact the brain
- Paralytic patients, like those who have had a spinal injury
- Depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, and other mental illnesses
- Osteoarthritis, fractures, rheumatoid arthritis, and other muscular, skeletal, or joint problems
- Patients with amputated limbs and wearing prostheses
- Patients with developmental disorders like autism, movement disorders, mental or physical disabilities, etc.
What Does Occupational Therapy Do?
We have already seen that occupational therapy aims to improve the skills you need to live life independently – your personal care, going to work, socializing, maintaining your hobbies, commuting, and so on. Occupational therapy is helpful in coping with physical limitations as well as mental issues and going about your daily routine every day.
At Lana Life Care, our occupational therapists work closely with family members, giving them useful tips and guidance on how to help their loved one regain mobility, better health, wellness, and be more independent. Depending on what type of limitation a patient has and the specific circumstances and environment, occupational therapy may involve:
- Re-learning daily chores like self-care, cooking food, cleaning, doing the laundry, and so on
- Exercises to improve mobility and movement range
- Exercises to improve memory and focus
- Re-learning and practicing the requisite skills to go to school or work
- Socializing skills
- Having a structure for your everyday routine
- Modifying your home or work environment to make it easier for the patient to be independent
- Guidance, advice, tips, and suggestions for family members
- The use of medical aids like prostheses, walkers, and so on
Types of Occupational Therapy
There are different types of occupational therapy based on different categories. We have seen that occupational therapy aims to provide therapeutic care to patients who need help with everyday tasks. Based on occupational therapy roles, we can categorize occupational therapists into the following:
- Speech therapists
- Occupational therapists
- Physiotherapy assistants
- Respiratory therapists
- Counseling psychologist
- Mental health therapist
- Neuro-rehabilitation occupational therapist
We also have the following:
Pediatric Occupational Therapy
As the name suggests, this is for young children with physical or psychological problems or learning disabilities. Pediatric therapists help children do their daily tasks with normalcy and comfort. They help in developing the sensory and motor skills that children need to function and interact socially.
You might want to check out the baby care services that we provide.
Occupational Therapy for the Elderly
Many senior citizens have problems with mobility, as advanced age shrinks and weakens muscles. They may find it difficult to perform simple chores like bathing, getting dressed, preparing meals, taking out the trash, cleaning, doing laundry, and so on. And there comes the importance of elderly care. But with the proper occupational therapy services, they can re-learn, adapt, or change to be able to live as independently as possible.
You might also want to know about our home elderly care services.
Occupational Therapy vs Physical Therapy
Both these therapies are rehabilitative in nature and aim to prevent a patient’s condition from becoming worse after an illness, accident, or surgery. However, there are some important differences.
Physical therapy aims to help patients in improving function, mobility, and movement, and this is usually achieved through exercises, stretches, and other physical activities. Usually, physiotherapy is recommended after surgeries and accidents as part of the treatment or recovery plan. Occupational therapy, on the other hand, focuses on helping you do your daily tasks comfortably and may involve changing your surroundings to make them more comfortable for you – though some exercises are recommended here too. OT may be recommended for someone recovering from a stroke, for example.
Occupational therapy can help people do activities that matter to them and make them feel healthy and fulfilled. Do you have a loved one who requires occupational therapy in Dubai?