April 30, 2016 By Fleur Minott Nembhard
So I’m often asked, What is Occupational therapy? ….. Do you teach people how to work?
… And I often use the phrase- “……it’s the functional side of rehabilitation” Of course it’s a lot more than that, and our sister rehabilitation specialties also influence function BUT, it’s a start to the dialogue. Often at the end of this conversation I’ve educated someone that comprehensive rehabilitation is not just about being able to walk!
Occupational Therapy is founded on the belief that man is an occupational being…..he is always doing – doing for himself- doing for his work/play- doing for others and as such there are roles that we are always playing.
Sometimes an injury or illness prevents us from performing those roles. The Occupational Therapist’s role is to assist clients in determining how they can restore or develop new occupational roles that will be of value within the family and the community in which they live or work.
Occupational Therapy seeks to bring balance into the situations surrounding people’s lives e.g. through coaching. Sometimes it is a preventative action to avoid loss of function.
Occupational therapy therefore addresses the ‘SKILLS FOR THE JOB OF LIVING’, from moving in bed, getting out of bed, moving to a wheel chair/ tub/toilet or car as well as bathing, dressing, feeding, writing, using your computer or phone, meal preparation and working. Simultaneously, the OT addresses all the component skills in between including balance, strength, fine motor skills. Along with those skills, we are also looking at the cognitive skills such as memory, concentration, attention, problem solving, multi-tasking etc. which are the foundation of being able to perform these living job skills.
In addition to working with our clients to achieve their goals, Occupational Therapists are always advocates for the disabled while offering support to their caregivers and families. We encourage accessibility by making recommendations for safety equipment, as well as providing recommendations for maintaining a balance in one’s life. Moreover, we assess work places for possible ergonomic challenges, teaching energy conservation and work simplification strategies along with the use of good body mechanics. Hence, the services of an Occupational Therapist are always needed.
Education is a large component of our service. From making recommendations to encourage you how to take charge of your back, your arthritis, your stress, your stroke, your anger, your posture, your fracture, your pain, your depression, we are always coaching.
So even though we don’t teach someone how to walk our clients may do a lot of moving in the clinic as we Empower and Inspire them to Achieve to the best of their ability, and be able to LIVE LIFE TO ITS FULLEST!