A guide to understanding Occupational Therapy

What exactly is occupational therapy? Here we provide some answers to your questions.

What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational Therapy is a form of evidence-based support to help people living with illness or disability achieve their goals in their daily life. These goals can be as simple as being able to shower and dress independently, or as complex as being able to move around the community or return to work. Professionals who are trained in this field are called Occupational Therapists or OTs.

What does “occupation” mean in Occupational Therapy?

Does it only refer to work-related rehabilitation support? The word “occupation” in “Occupational Therapy” often confuses people, with many believing that Occupational Therapy is related only to returning to the workforce or dealing with work-related injury. Though these can certainly be addressed by an Occupational Therapist, occupation in this case simply means the things that “occupy” an individual—that is, the activities or tasks that a person performs daily.

In fact, there is a type of Occupational Therapy that is designed specifically for children (see question below)—even though they don’t necessarily “work”.

Stop for a moment and think of the activities that you do each day, from the moment you wake up: standing up from your bed, taking a shower, getting dressed, cooking a meal, driving or taking the bus to school or—yes—work, going to the shops, meeting with friends to get a bite to eat.

All of these are “occupations”, activities that fulfil us or bring us joy, or make us feel that we are part of a thriving community.

Illness or disability need not bar a person from participating in these daily occupations, but they may need help from an Occupational Therapist to be able to do these occupations safely and with a certain degree of independence.

What does Occupational Therapy entail?

An Occupational Therapist is trained to analyse these occupations, identify a person’s abilities in relation to participating in these occupations, and design a therapy program specifically tailored for that person.

At Better Rehab, our Occupational Therapists communicate with our participants so they can tailor the therapy to each participant’s specific needs and goals, and can work with a multidisciplinary team coming from other healthcare fields. Our Occupational Therapists can teach evidence-based techniques and give suggestions on modifying your home environment (such as installing a grab rail or redesigning your bathroom) or using new equipment.

What are the benefits of Occupational Therapy?

Occupational Therapists assist with introducing, maintaining and improving daily skills to help individuals achieve their maximum independence at home, school or the community and increase quality of life. They can help you identify goals to increase engagement in daily activities and social participation and provide interventions to help you achieve these goals.

What is paediatric Occupational Therapy?

Paediatric Occupational Therapy is Occupational Therapy specifically designed for children and teenagers. At Better Rehab, we provide services for children and teenagers aged 6 years and older with a range of conditions including Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Anxiety, Developmental Delay, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome and Intellectual Disability.

At Better Rehab, our Occupational Therapists have experience in working with children and teenagers to further develop their:

  • Self-care (dressing, toileting, grooming, showering)
  • Play
  • Social skills
  • Emotional regulation
  • Fine motor (handwriting, shoelaces, finger and hand strength)
  • Gross motor (balance, throwing, catching, kicking, coordination)
  • Age appropriate domestic skills (meal preparation, cleaning, chores)
  • Executive functioning (planning, organisation, memory and sequencing)

Access Occupational Therapy

Australians living with disability may be eligible to receive funding through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), which funds Occupational Therapy and other supports. Better Rehab is an NDIS registered allied health provider, so if you or someone you know is funded through NDIS, please contact us as we can certainly help with your Occupational Therapy needs!

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