People with chronic pain, disabilities, injuries, and particular health conditions find it difficult to handle daily activities, including work, school, or household tasks. Occupational therapy concentrates on developing the skills and strengths needed for routine activities to help people with such conditions function safely and independently in their everyday lives, improving quality of life and overall health. Occupational therapy can be used on various emotional, cognitive, and physical issues to help persons of all ages, from infants to older adults.
Stroke, autism, chronic pain, developmental disabilities, and low vision are some of the conditions occupational therapy can help with. It may also be included in a rehabilitation program. An occupational therapist identifies your difficulties and strengths to personalize a program that suits your needs. This article outlines eight ways occupational therapy can help you.
Help with autism transitions
Children with developmental and behavioral delays may require extra support to adjust to changing routines from elementary, middle, and high schools, then into college and the post-academic work professional world as adults. For autistic children, an Occupational Therapist aims to develop their handwriting, daily living, and fine motor skills.
The most crucial role in assessing and targeting a child’s sensory processing differences is to eliminate learning barriers and help the children focus more and become calmer. This allows children with development and behavioral health issues to reach their full potential all through schooling and beyond.
Help with reduced vision adjustments
Low vision from glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and other conditions can negatively impact your ability to do daily tasks and increase the possibility of accidents. With the help of occupational therapy, people with low vision can effectively and safely manage their everyday activities at work, at home, and when participating in recreational activities. An occupational therapist will work with you to learn peripheral or eccentric viewing techniques, reshape your environments, use magnifying devices, modify lighting and computer settings, and more.
Help children achieve age-appropriate milestones
Crawling is a vital milestone that plays a crucial role in a child's mental and physical development. Doing it on the knees and hands enables children to build upper body and neck strength and motor skills while enhancing hand-eye coordination, memory, and concentration. An occupational therapist recommends various types of play for kids with developmental delays, including wooden blocks, balls, crawling tunnels, and tummy time to boost their development.
Enhance gross and fine motor skills
Gross motor skills like running, sitting upright, and walking can be challenging for people battling chronic pain and arthritis, after joint replacement, or undergoing cancer treatment. Fine motor skills such as picking a spoon aren't easy for people recovering from spinal cord injuries, burns, or stroke.
Fine motor skills may involve using silverware or holding pencils at an appropriate age. Going down and up the stairs or jumping can be challenging for children with poor gross motor skills. An occupational therapist can help you improve your gross and motor skills while making everything easier and less painful.
Reduce the possibility of surgical intervention
Surgeries always involve the risk of lengthy recovery periods, infections, and blood clots. Occupational therapy can help correct problems such as strains, sprains, tendonitis, dislocations, chronic or acute pain, arthritis, and bursitis without a surgical procedure. While surgery can be inevitable at times, occupational therapy enables your body to speed its natural healing process. Where surgery is unavoidable, it’s always wise to avoid the need for invasive procedures if problems can be treated via occupational therapy.
Help you age in place
Occupational therapy helps seniors live independently in their homes for longer. This can be beneficial because most older adults want to age in place. Occupational therapy can help seniors who've undergone health setbacks like stroke or need to adapt to changing environments improve self-care skills, including safely getting in and out of bed, daily hygiene, and more. An occupational therapist can help you resume higher-level activities such as medication management, meal preparation and planning, money management, and other skills.
Help with caregiver support
Caregivers offer unwavering support to other people. However, they also need support. With diseases like dementia and movement disorders, the caregiving job becomes even harder, straining the caregivers. Occupational therapists can talk to families to help them find a balance between preserving independence and getting independence. Caregivers can also learn to determine if what they're doing isn't enough or too much to ensure their patients get the care they need.
Improve baby healing surroundings
For babies in neonatal intensive care units (NICU), the high-tech surroundings are anything but soothing. This may slow the development of baby skills while focusing on lifesaving and intravenous feeding treatments. An occupational therapist in the neonatal intensive care unit works with premature, fragile babies to help them meet their early tasks, bonding with caregivers and parents, and feeding. They also protect infants from sensory overload because of noises, treatments, and hospital lighting. Occupational therapists can help promote muscular and neurological development in newborns.
Occupational therapy benefits people with chronic pain, disabilities, injuries, and other conditions that make it challenging to complete daily tasks. Consider consulting an occupational therapist if you have these conditions for valuable advice and support.