Occupational Therapists

What is an OT?

OT is an abbreviation for Occupational Therapist or Occupational Therapy.

In this context the term ‘Occupation’ can be misleading.  Most people assume it means helping people to return to work.  In some circumstances it does, however we term the meaning of ‘Occupation’ as the activities that one does during the day that occupy their lives.  This could be anything from getting out of bed, brushing their teeth, and making a meal, to making decisions about what they are going to do in a day and how they will go about it.

When assessing a client with any disability the OT will look at their physical, cognitive and emotional functions in the areas of self-care, work and leisure.  The OT determines where the issues are; sometimes there are issues in all three areas.  OT’s then help the client to decide what their priorities are in order to determine goals and make plans to overcome these issues or barriers to enable them to carry out their daily activities as independently as possible.

There are a number of approaches that OT’s use to help clients overcome barriers.  In some situations OT’s will use a rehabilitation approach, i.e. rehabilitate the client back to their previous function.  In some situations they may use a compensatory approach, by using equipment to adapt their environment to increase independence or educate the client to use strategies to manage their symptoms.  Other situations an OT might be a rehabilitation case manager, liaising with team members, monitoring a client’s function and providing advice and recommendations for future care needs.  Often a combination of approaches is used.

So if you or someone you know is struggling with occupations as a result of a disability, a referral to an Occupational Therapist for an assessment for services could be the next step towards independence.

Hear from an OT – Further insight into the field of Occupational Therapy

Click an image below to view a video clip of an OT in action and describing their role in their own words.

Kathryn Decker
Katie Schinkel

 Videos courtesy of the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT)

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