An Occupational Therapist helps patients develop skills needed for everyday living. Without it, everyday tasks may seem impossible for some. The overall goal is to help people accomplish these tasks so that they can lead fulfilled, independent lives. People often relate occupational therapy with adults for work and industry, but it offers benefits to individuals for all ages whose lives have been limited by physical injury or illness, developmental problems, the aging process, or other difficult situations.
Alzheimer and Dementia
Having experienced Alzheimer disease professionally with patients and personally with family members, I know about the related difficulties. Therefore, I cannot stress enough the importance of caregivers taking care of themselves by, allowing for periods of rest and relaxation. Occupational therapy can make life a little easier for people with any form of dementia and for those that care for them. Therapists teach a useful approach to assisting with daily activities as symptoms progress. According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, occupational therapy can benefit people with Alzheimer’s and as well as their caregivers by training the Alzheimer patient to do tasks independently, and training the caregiver how to reinforce the teachings so that independence is not lost. The therapy also includes instruction to both parties that can help insure safer environments and safeguarding against wandering.
There are many benefits of occupational therapy for an autistic person. Autism sometimes limits the individual’s communication and social interaction skills. Occupational therapists gather information, through observation, that helps them develop personalized programs with specific goals for their patients, to enable them to respond better to their environments. Therefore, with the help of an occupational therapist, many are able to overcome or lessen their limitations. Sometimes it is a matter of finding new interests and activities and then work on specific skills to do them well. Newfound abilities help them gain a sense of self-confidence. In turn, the new confidence increases their chances of socially interacting and communicating successfully with others at home and school. These successes help promote skills for long-term independent living in people with autism in some cases.
Children and Youth
Many think that occupational therapy is only for adults. According to kidshealth.org, occupational therapy can help kids with various needs improve their cognitive, physical, and sensory & motors skills and enhance their self-esteem and sense of accomplishment. For kids, occupational therapy introduces them to activities that enable them to learn and develop life skills while being creative and having fun. According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, kids with the following medical problems might benefit from occupational therapy: birth injuries or birth defects, sensory processing disorders, brain or spinal cord injuries, learning problems, mental health or behavioral problems, developmental delays, spina bifida, cancer, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and other chronic illnesses.
Occupational Therapy Month
Each year in April, those in this profession host a month-long celebration highlighting the profession’s importance. Whether you are in the profession or you just have a success story with occupational therapy, use your individual voice to raise awareness or volunteer in your community’s activities.