When you hear the term “occupational therapy,” do you think it means therapy for people who have sustained workplace injuries? It is a common misperception. While occupational therapists do work with work-related issues, their scope of treatment is much broader and available to clients of any age, from birth to senior citizens.
Occupational skills refer to your meaningful daily tasks. Occupational therapy can help you if you have an injury or condition that makes it difficult to take care of yourself, perform work, school, household tasks, leisure activities, or have pain or mobility problems.
Children also have occupational skills. These may include manipulating toys and puzzles, holding a pencil, tying their shoes, visually processing shapes and letters, social skills, and more.
The Clinical Center of the National Institutes of Health recommends occupational therapy for people with:
- A delay in developmental milestones.
- Difficulties in performing self-care, household, or job-related roles due to pain, decreased range of motion, fatigue, weakness, problems with sensation, coordination, perception, or thought/memory.
- Limitations in meaningful activity because of architectural barriers in the home or community.
- Mental health difficulties and/or problems with community living skills.
- A need for information regarding wheelchairs, motorized scooters, or other adaptive equipment to improve quality of life and enhance abilities.
- A need for upper extremity orthotics (braces) or prosthetics.
If you have an injury, illness, or disability that makes it difficult to perform your daily tasks or desired level of activity, occupational therapy can teach you how to regain skills or learn to adapt so you can live life to its fullest. Occupational therapy can help you learn to perform skills like buttoning your shirt with one hand, bathing or eating independently, how to take part safely in school, athletic, or leisure activities, how to use an assistive device, and much more.
Occupational therapists provide services in a variety of settings, including clinics, hospitals, schools, community centers, nursing homes, prisons, workplaces, and private homes.
Occupational Therapy Practitioners
The American Occupational Therapy Association explains, “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.” A holistic perspective means to look at the entire needs of each person, considering their physical, emotional, social, and spiritual health.
Occupational therapy practitioners are skilled healthcare professionals, including licensed occupational therapists and certified occupational therapy assistants, who help clients perform activities, tasks, or movements more easily and comfortably. Either professional may also have one or more specialty credentials.
Occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants often work as a team, along with physical therapists, medical doctors, and mental health professionals.
Licensed Occupational Therapist (OT)
Licensed occupational therapists focus on helping clients adapt to temporary or permanent deficits in their ability to perform everyday tasks. Deficits may be because of injury, illness, developmental or cognitive issues, aging, or disability.
To become licensed, occupational therapists must have a master’s degree from an accredited educational program and demonstrate competency by successfully completing 24 weeks of mentored practice experience. They must then pass the national certification exam administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT®).
It is becoming more common for occupational therapists to possess a doctorate degree. The Accreditation Council of Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) expects this advanced degree to become a requirement by 2027.
Occupational therapists can also choose to pursue one or more advanced specialty certifications in such areas as hand therapy, pediatrics, physical rehabilitation, gerontology, environmental modification, and others.
Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA)
Certified occupational therapy assistants work under the direct supervision of a licensed occupational therapist. The OTA helps plan, implement, and evaluate the plan of care for each client.
Occupational therapy assistants must complete an associate degree from an accredited program, complete state-required clinical experience, and pass the Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA) exam for national certification.
Who Can Benefit from Occupational Therapy?
Anyone, at any age, who is struggling to perform the everyday tasks that provide independence and joy can benefit from occupational therapy. AT MOTION, our licensed occupational therapists are skilled at treating clients with limitations from a wide range of injuries, diseases, disabilities, and conditions, including:
- Juvenile or adult arthritis
- Birth defects
- Down disorder
- Sensory processing disorders
- Developmental delays
- Learning problems
- Chronic pain
- Severe burns
- Injury to the brain or musculoskeletal system
- Low vision
- Cancer, diabetes, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis
- Alzheimer’s and other cognitive changes
- Poor balance or limited mobility
- Depression or other mental illnesses
Occupational Therapy Benefits Adults, Teens, and Children
During the first visit with your MOTION occupational therapist, we will gather information about your condition, your daily activities, limitations that are holding you back, your level of pain, and your goals. We may visit you at your home, school, or workplace to get a better idea of the challenges you are facing.
We will carefully review your medical history, perform a physical examination, and conduct some or all of the following assessments to establish a baseline.
- Strength, flexibility, endurance, and range of motion
- Muscle tone, involuntary movement, compensations, and balance reactions
- Muscle and joint function
- Mobility, sensory and neuromotor development
- Skin health
- Level of assistance needs
- Proprioception (awareness of the body’s position and movement)
Results of these assessments, along with your input, help us develop a treatment plan with realistic, achievable goals. We will evaluate your progress as you move through the treatment program, revising the plan as needed.
Sessions may include activities that are movement-based, and others that are mind-based. Therapeutic approaches may include:
- Exercises and stretches to improve your strength, flexibility, and balance.
- Activities to strengthen cognitive or sensory function.
- Practical exercises to re-learn or adapt to everyday activities, like getting dressed, cooking, and driving.
- Life skills training, job readiness training.
- Social and emotional health therapy.
- Modalities to reduce pain, like hot or cold therapy, electrical stimulation, or ultrasound.
At MOTION, we believe you are an integral part of the recovery process. We want you to provide feedback, ask questions, make suggestions, and function as our partner.
What Do Occupational Therapy Sessions for Children Look Like?
Children’s occupational therapy sessions may look like play. Equipment may include various sizes of balls, a mini trampoline, a colorful obstacle course, swings, a climbing structure, and toys.
Therapists focus on helping children improve gross and fine motor skills, balance, core body strength, and coordination, and work to improve the child’s ability to play, socialize, and learn.
Depending on the needs of the child, MOTION occupational therapists design creative, fun activities with achievable goals. Goals focus on helping each child reach developmental milestones, take part in age-appropriate daily activities, and develop the life, learning, and social skills necessary for an independent and fulfilling life.
Why Consider MOTION For Your Occupational Therapy Needs?
MOTION has been providing quality, transformative physical, occupational, hand, speech, pediatric, and work injury therapy services to clients of all ages since 2015. Our mission is to get “to get you back to what moves you,” and we passionately pursue that mission.
MOTION occupational therapists are skilled professionals with years of experience helping clients achieve a better quality of life. All of our occupational therapists are licensed, and some also have specialty credentials, such as Certified Hand Therapist (CHT). Our compassion, experience, and advanced training make us among the best in the business.
We understand how much you value your independence and how devastating it is to struggle with everyday tasks. If it is your child who is struggling, we know how much you want to help them.
Our occupational therapists work one-on-one with children and adults, providing the best quality, hands-on care available. Through evidence-based therapy techniques and proven results, our team will help you or your child regain and build the skills necessary to lead an independent, productive, and satisfying life.
Contact us today to schedule an in-clinic or telehealth appointment, or to learn more about our occupational therapy program and other programs and services we provide.