WHAT

What is Occupational Therapy?

Your life is made up of occupations—meaningful everyday activities. These occupations can include many roles, such as being a parent, a grandparent, an employee, a business owner, a teenager, a golfer, an artist, a cook, or a friend.

We generally don’t think about our daily occupations until we have trouble doing them.

Everyone has occupations—from the grandparent who enjoys taking care of grandchildren during the day, to the adult volunteer, to the caregiver who helps a spouse remain independent. If you have a medical condition, your health status changes, or you are recovering from an accident or injury, your valued occupations may be disrupted or limited.

Occupational therapy focuses on your valued occupations and integrates them into the prevention, wellness, and rehabilitation processes. The goal of occupational therapy is to help you do what you need and want to do in everyday life.

Occupational therapy is the only profession that helps people across the lifespan to do the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of daily activities (occupations). Occupational therapy practitioners enable people of all ages to live life to its fullest by helping them promote health, and prevent—or live better with—injury, illness, or disability. 

Common occupational therapy interventions include helping children with disabilities to participate fully in school and social situations, helping people recovering from injury to regain skills, and providing supports for older adults experiencing physical and cognitive changes. Occupational therapy services typically include:

  • an individualized evaluation, during which the client/family and occupational therapist determine the person’s goals,
  • customized intervention to improve the person’s ability to perform daily activities and reach the goals, and
  • an outcomes evaluation to ensure that the goals are being met and/or make changes to the intervention plan. 

Occupational therapy practitioners have a holistic perspective, in which the focus is on adapting the environment and/or task to fit the person, and the person is an integral part of the therapy team. It is an evidence-based practice deeply rooted in science. 

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