Occupational therapy: Its multiple usefulness
Occupational therapy is a type of professional support for people suffering from mental or physical problems. Through daily exercises and activities, the occupational therapist aims to integrate these people into everyday life in the best possible way. In order to cover a wide range of needs, occupational therapy is therefore divided into types. What are they and how does each help?
What types of occupational therapy are there?
There are multiple types of occupational therapy and depending on the case, the occupational therapist is called upon to treat the patient accordingly.
Three of the most basic types of occupational therapy are occupational therapy in orthopaedics, neurology and paediatrics.
Occupational therapy curriculum
In particular, these courses may include:
- Anatomy and physiology of the human body
- Motor development and disability in childhood
- Motor development and disability in adulthood
- Clinical assessment and diagnosis
- Therapeutic process and treatment plan design
- Pharmacology and mobility
- Psychology and social support in the restoration of mobility and functional ability
- Assistive technologies to improve independence and mobility
- Practice in clinical and community settings
In which areas does occupational therapy intervene?
Occupational Therapy is a therapeutic specialty that intervenes in various areas of human activity, with the aim of improving people's functionality, mobility, independence and life. Below are some of the areas of intervention of Occupational Therapy:
- Rehabilitation after injury or illness: Occupational Therapy intervenes to improve the functionality and mobility of people after injuries, accidents, illnesses or surgeries.
- Disability and motor independence: Occupational Therapy helps to improve the independence and mobility of people with disabilities.
- Children's Occupational Therapy: Occupational Therapy intervenes with children with developmental disorders or disabilities to improve their mobility, cooperation, communication and skills.
- Nursing Homes and Community Facilities: Occupational Therapy intervenes with older people who have loss of function and independence to improve their mobility, balance and life skills.
- Mental Health: Occupational Therapy intervenes with people with mental disorders to improve their daily activities and social skills.
- Injury prevention: Occupational Therapy intervenes in the area of injury prevention by supporting safe behaviour in various purposeful activities.
- Education and Occupation: Occupational Therapy intervenes with individuals who have problems in education or work to improve their functional abilities and skills.
Occupational Therapy Evaluation
Occupational Therapy assessment is the process in which an occupational therapist collects information about an individual's functional abilities, skills, needs and goals in order to develop an individualized Occupational Therapy program.
The assessment consists of several steps and procedures, which may vary depending on the type of pathology or need for intervention. Some of the key stages of Occupational Therapy assessment include:
- Interview: The interview is the first stage of the assessment and is designed to gather basic information about the individual and their pathology.
- Observation: Observation is one of the basic assessment procedures and is intended to assess the individual's functioning in his/her environment and daily life.
- Functional assessment: Functional assessment involves the investigation of the individual's functional abilities and ability to perform daily activities.
- Skills assessment: Skills assessment is an important stage of the assessment and aims to explore the individual's skills in relation to his/her environment and its requirements.
- Needs assessment: The needs assessment aims to explore the individual's needs in relation to the activities they need to perform.
Occupational therapy in orthopaedics
Occupational therapy in orthopaedics focuses on the patient's traumatic condition.
Practitioners assess patients' pre-trauma abilities and work to help them regain their energy and abilities after surgery.
They can help patients with serious injuries, such as upper or lower extremity fractures, musculoskeletal and other conditions, as well as surgical procedures such as knee and hip replacements, etc.
Their role is to improve movement, restore body function and relieve pain.
Other key responsibilities of these occupational therapists who are part of the healthcare staff include assisting patients with mobility aids. For example, among others, they include wheelchairs, daily activities and recreational activities.
Orthopedic occupational therapists can treat current problems and provide preventive healthcare to clients with a variety of requirements by assessing them and developing customized treatment plans.
After an initial assessment, an occupational orthopedic therapist creates a treatment plan tailored to each patient's specific needs.
Occupational therapists are in constant consultation with the patient's physicians. Thus, treatment options vary depending on the doctor's order, diagnosis and symptoms, but may include:
- Strength, flexibility and conditioning exercises
- Activities of daily training
- Joint and soft tissue mobilization
- Treatment of swelling
- Patient, family and carer education etc.
Occupational therapy in neurology
Neurological diseases such as stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease and others require special attention and help.
Occupational therapists who specialize in neurology try to prevent degeneration caused by conditions such as muscular dystrophy, find the ideal sitting and lying positions to avoid injuries, etc.
The main goal of these therapists is to reduce the impact of neurological conditions on patients' lives and improve their quality of life.
These healthcare specialists are trained to provide treatments such as:
- Visual perception techniques
- Energy conservation
- Body mechanics
- Biofeedback etc.
Occupational therapy and intensive care
Occupational therapists in the case of intensive care work with patients who have serious medical conditions such as head trauma, emphysema, stroke, etc.
The first and most important responsibility of these specialists is to analyze the patients' life threats, as well as any loss of functions, and stabilize their medical condition.
The occupational therapist in this field is responsible for:
- Helping families and caregivers
- Planning and determining nutritional safety
- Providing food guidelines
- Providing food service guidelines and guidelines for feeding and feeding patients, developing pre- and post-hospital rehabilitation programmes, etc.
- They also assist patients with mobility exercises and device alignment in order to maintain joint and muscle integrity.
For example, in an upper limb rehabilitation case, the occupational therapist with the ultimate goal of rehabilitation helps the patient through various modalities such as:
- Therapeutic activities
- Therapeutic exercises
- Pain management
- Sensory re-education
- Orthotic design, construction, application and training
- Joint protection and/or energy modification for daily activities at home, work, school or leisure
- Mirror therapy
- Training for post-operative or post-traumatic safety, including sensory loss
Occupational therapy in paediatrics
Occupational therapists specializing in the field of pediatrics learn to develop cognitive and adaptive skills.
They create numerous programs to help children participate in various settings and environments such as school, home and so on, as well as interact with other peers.
Occupational pediatric therapists are also responsible for educating families on how to support their children's development and skill acquisition.
In other cases, they care for newborn babies with disabilities and work to treat and prevent them.
On the other hand, there are the psychiatric and neurological disorders in children, such as cerebral palsy, autism and others, which these occupational therapy specialists in the field of pediatrics can help with.
Some signs that a child may need the help of an occupational therapist include the following:
- Sensory processing disorder
- Not using both hands in activities or games
- Difficulty with independence in dressing
- Avoidance of eye contact
Occupational therapy and activities of daily living
Occupational therapy is a therapeutic process that helps people cope with the difficulties they face in their daily lives due to illness, injury or disability. The occupational therapist works with patients to help develop skills and increase independence in daily life.
During occupational therapy, the occupational therapist may use various activities to help the patient. These may include:
- Mobility exercises: The occupational therapist may teach exercises to improve mobility, balance and stability.
- Training to use assistive devices: the occupational therapist may teach patients how to use assistive devices, such as walking with canes or a wheelchair, to help patients become more independent and reduce the risk of falling.
- Independent living education: An occupational therapist can teach patients how to perform daily activities such as dressing, grooming themselves, preparing food and cleaning the house.
- Participate in community activities: The occupational therapist can encourage patients to participate in community activities, such as sports teams, volunteer communities, and community events.
- Occupational therapy for children: Occupational therapy can help children develop skills such as writing, cutting with scissors, tying and coping with difficulties such as dyslexia or disabilities.
Overall, occupational therapy can help patients improve their quality of life and gain independence in their purposeful activities. It can also help regain autonomy after an illness or injury and improve the psychological and physical health of individuals.
Occupational therapy and social skills
Occupational therapy can help develop and improve the social skills of individuals. Social skills refer to the ability of individuals to communicate and interact with other people in different social and environmental situations.
Occupational therapy can use various methods and techniques to help patients develop and improve their social skills. This can be done through:
- Role-playing exercises: the occupational therapist can use role-playing exercises to help patients train for different roles in different social situations. This can improve their ability to identify social needs and adapt to different social situations.
- Group exercises: The occupational therapist can organize group exercises to improve cooperation, communication and social skills of individuals. Through these exercises, patients can work in a group environment and develop skills such as communication, listening and cooperation.
- Addressing social anxiety: The occupational therapist can help patients cope with social anxiety through education and repetition of various social activities. They can also provide support and advice to improve relationships with other people.
Sensory integration refers to the brain's ability to process and integrate information from different senses, such as vision, hearing, touch and movement. It is important for developing skills and achieving independence in daily activities.
Occupational therapy can use various techniques to improve sensory integration in individuals. Some of these techniques include:
- Sensory testing: The occupational therapist may conduct sensory testing to assess the sensory perceptions of patients and provide specific sensory integration therapy.
- Sensory sensitivity enhancement: The occupational therapist may use various techniques to improve patients' sensory sensitivity, such as the use of heavy and light resistance, the use of brushes, and the application of weights to the limbs.
- Providing sensory stimulation: the occupational therapist may use various tools and materials to provide sensory stimulation to patients and improve their sensory integration. This may include the use of balls, objects with different textures and pressers.
- Balance exercises: The occupational therapist may teach balance exercises to improve patients' perception of their body's position in space. This can improve their sensory integration and reduce anxiety about their condition.
Personal hygiene is an important factor in human health and well-being and can help to improve the effectiveness of occupational therapy. Below are some thoughts on the importance of personal hygiene for occupational therapy:
- Reducing the risk of disease transmission: By maintaining a clean environment and fully adhering to preventive measures (such as mask use and frequent hand washing), the risk of disease transmission to patients and health care professionals can be reduced.
- Improving physical fitness: Maintaining good personal hygiene can contribute to improving a person's physical fitness. Occupational therapists usually promote the restoration of the patient's functionality and physical fitness is important to achieve this goal.
- Adopting good eating habits: Maintaining good dietary practices can help improve a person's health and energy levels. Occupational therapists can advise their patients on appropriate dietary choices that can help with rehabilitation and health maintenance.
- Injury prevention: Maintaining a clean and safe environment can reduce the risk of injury and help prevent re-injury.
Rehabilitation centres provide specialised rehabilitation services to people with health problems or disabilities. Their aim is to improve the person's functionality, mobility and independence in daily life.
These centres provide many different services, including:
- Physiotherapy: Physiotherapy is provided to people with mobility problems, with the aim of restoring normal movement and functionality of the body.
- Occupational therapy: Occupational therapy is provided to people who have problems with daily activities, with the goal of improving their independence and functionality in daily life.
- Other therapies: Other therapies such as psychotherapy, osteopathy, hearing rehabilitation, speech therapy and nutritional counselling are also provided at rehabilitation and occupational therapy centres.
- Advice and education.
In addition, rehabilitation centres can provide specialised programmes for people with specific disabilities or conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, paralysis, arthritis and others.
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