What is Occupational Therapy?

When we become so accustomed to everyday tasks like brushing our teeth, completing household chores, or performing job duties, it can be incredibly hard once these activities become difficult. This can become a reality for people living with disabilities, but it isn’t impossible to experience an adaptive lifestyle. Here’s why occupational therapists are important and what they do for people living with disabilities.

The Goal of Occupational Therapy

Many people are surprised by the number of changes that occur after living with a disability. When enduring chronic pain, illness, or injuries, everyday activities can be set aside to prioritize your care. When this happens, seemingly simple life skills become more difficult. This can include but is not limited to job/schoolwork, household chores, or self-care activities.

Thankfully, this is where occupational therapy comes in to help. The ultimate goal of OT is to reestablish a sense of routine and familiarity with everyday life. However, it specifically uses adaptive skills to help you work through the changes your disability requires while still accomplishing everyday needs. For example, you may be given assistive devices to make these tasks accessible to you.

The Role of an Occupational Therapist

An occupational therapist is a medical professional with a specialized graduate degree in occupational therapy, otherwise called OT. Occupational therapists have to pass a national exam to become licensed and certified to practice. Some OTs may go through additional training to support specific needs focused on helping people with hand disabilities, low vision, or certain age groups.

It should be noted that OTs will be one part of your overall care plan. While they’ll support you in sustaining an independent living with your medical condition, they can’t create your therapy plan or assess your entire case. They may work with an occupational assistant, but they must have an associate’s degree. OTs and OTAs will work together with your primary care provider, physical therapist, psychologist, and any other health professionals on your care team.

When is OT Considered?

There are a variety of cases where OT may be considered, especially if you struggle to perform specific tasks because of a medical condition. For example, occupational therapy is often utilized for people living with brain conditions. Individuals living with the consequences of a stroke, dementia, a traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s may all benefit from OT.

Even so, OT can assist people living with a vast number of medical conditions, even some mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. OT may also be considered for the following medical conditions:

Amputations and Prostheses
Developmental disorders such as autism
Rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, or broken bones
Low vision
Chronic pain
Poor balance
Cerebral palsy

What Does Occupational Therapy Include?

Occupational therapists work with all age groups from premature babies to seniors. Your first appointment with an OT will consist of them analyzing your needs. They’ll observe you performing everyday activities and develop a plan of action from there. This may include a visit to your work, home, or school.

Once they’ve overseen your everyday activities, they’ll begin by prescribing you assistive devices like canes or grabbers. From there, they’ll work with you to adapt everyday movements so you’re able to live with less discomfort. They can also help you improve your motor skills or hand-eye coordination.

Where to Receive OT

Occupational therapy will be offered in any professional medical facility. An OT may even visit your home, workplace, or school to further evaluate your needs. Here are some locations where you may find occupational therapy:

Rehab centers
Outpatient clinics
Assisted living or nursing homes
Private practice offices
Corporate offices
Industrial workplaces
Early intervention centers
Home visits
How to Receive OT

The guidelines for receiving occupational therapy are going to vary based on your insurance and where you live. However, in most cases, you’ll need a prescription from your doctor before receiving OT services. If you’re already in a hospital, it’s very likely that you’ll automatically get OT treatment while you’re in the facility. Regarding payments, if occupational therapy is prescription ordered, it’s highly likely that it will be covered by insurance. Even so, it’s always best to work with your primary care doctor and insurer to determine the best course of action.

If you or a loved one need occupational therapy, you’ll be pleased to know that Arbors of Ohio includes these services under our care. Living with changes in your body as you get older or as a result of disability can be difficult, but we’re prepared to help! Contact us to learn more about our occupational therapy services and what we can do for you or your loved one!

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