What are the Benefits of Occupational Therapy for people of all ages?
An occupational therapist’s task is to restore a person’s ability to perform daily tasks as independently as possible. OTs work with people of any age, including children and elderly people, to help perform and cope with daily tasks.
Occupational therapists (OT) can help to rehabilitate after an accident or illness as well as work with children such as those with learning difficulties. Their job is to also develop strategies to help with a disability or mental health issues and help improve overall confidence in social situations.
You might find yourself struggling with active daily living activities which include the basics of eating, dressing, using the restroom, and showering. For people who experience difficulties within those activities, occupational therapy can provide a range of benefits, which really improve the overall quality of living:
1. Improve Strength, Range of Motion & Endurance for Daily Tasks and to Reduce Pain
Medical incidents such as surgery or a stroke as well as more chronic illnesses like arthritis, can create changes in the range of available movement in joints, which can decrease the ability to perform normal daily tasks.
Occupational therapists analyse the individuals range of motion, their overall body strength as well as endurance and are able to provide a personalised strategy to help improve the body’s overall ability in areas of lack of motion, endurance or strength.
Strategies may include:
- Passive range of motion, where therapists restore the performance of motion for their client by assisting in making small joint-related movements
- Active range of motion, when a patient is asked to move their body parts on their own and performs other joint-related movements without physical assistance
- Proper body positioning when lying down or sitting, where resistance caused by gravity is decreased, while increasing the ease of joint mobility. It’s a strategy to avoid pain which can easily appear when a person pushes themselves too hard and too fast while being wrongly positioned
Occupational therapy also educates patients to become more aware of how improper body positioning contributes to the risk of increased pain. Stretching techniques and manual guided exercises provided by OTs are designed to improve weak joint movement and reduce physical pain.
Also for children, strength and stability are fundamental skills needed to complete everyday tasks, as well as gross and fine motoric skills. With the support of Occupational Therapy, developing these foundational skills, children will be able to complete visual motor activities and maneuver their environments with increased ease.
2. Improve Visual, Cognitive and Sensory Skills
Visual impairment can occur from birth or with eye diseases, after a brain injury or a stroke. These visual changes can affect a person’s ability to read or walk confidently. Occupational therapy can teach visual adaptive techniques such as scanning and pre-reading strategies to improve performance and overall experience when reading.
Cognitive skills are essential to pay bills, return to work, order items online or organise a daily calendar. OT’s focus on practicing those skills or using activities that require organisation, attention, problem solving, and reasoning to improve cognition required to complete necessary functional tasks.
Specifically for children, OT addresses sensory processing difficulties and can help your child better receive and respond to the sensory input they are receiving whether it be tolerating different types of food, coping with untypical environments, or trying new clothes.
3. Home Safety Evaluations
The task of an Occupational therapist is to support a person’s ability to remain in their own home when confronting a disability or grow in age. Occupational Therapists can provide home evaluations to address potential safety hazards inside and outside the home. This provides a peace-of-mind and safety in the home. OTs can offer advice regarding grab bar placements, ramps, kitchen equipment organisation, as well as bathroom recommendations such as bathtub benches to help increase safety.
4. Caregiver Training and Support
A big part of someone who is struggling with the range of movement, physical disabilities or mental illnesses is their caregivers and family members. It can feel heartbreaking and overwhelming to watch a loved one suffer through the process of performing daily living tasks. It’s even more difficult to be a caregiver experiencing personal guilt or frustrations with a family member experiencing those challenges. Part of an occupational therapists’ role is to provide training also to caregivers and to help them to better understand the overall situation, the disease or disability and explain the limitations of those, while also providing guidance in how to deal with the specific impediment. An example of this would be explaining the cognitive changes that occur in people with Alzheimer’s Disease, including visual hallucinations and decreased memory.
5. Occupational Therapy Improves an Individual’s Independence
The major benefit of Occupational Therapy would be improving someone’s independence. People don’t like to be dependent on other people’s help and generally would like to be able to take care of themselves. Being able to complete personal tasks, such as showering, dressing, and going to the bathroom gives you a sense of independence, confidence and overall happiness.
OT is the only therapy where the primary focus is to improve specific self-care skills and finding ways to adapt these skills in order to still live independently. The skills to be taught and assisted with can include: eating, dressing, toileting, bathing, completing hygiene tasks, getting on to the toilet, and other essential tasks.
Is Occupational Therapy the right approach for you or your loved one?
We can help you find the answers you need. At Correlate Connections our Occupational Therapists are there to support you in whatever journey you are going through. Contact us today to learn more about Occupational Therapy and how it can benefit you and your family. Call us on (02) 4607 2697.