Occupational Therapy 101: What Is OT?

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Transcript Occupational Therapy 101: What Is OT?

Occupational Therapy 101:
What Is OT?
Cindi Kumpf–Intern
AOTA Public Affairs Office
What Is Occupation?
• Occupations are the “ordinary and familiar
things that people do every day” (AOTA, 1995, p.
1015) and consist of many dimensions,
Social and symbolic
• The main categories of occupation include
work, self-care, play, and leisure.
Occupational Therapy
• Occupational therapy is skilled treatment
that helps people become successful in
their everyday occupations. Often
independence is the goal and can be
achieved through:
– Skilled treatment in rehabilitating lost motor or
cognitive function
– Adaptive equipment
– Home modifications
– Client and caregiver guidance
Occupational Therapists Work…
In these areas:
- Physical Rehabilitation
- Mental Health Services
- Learning Disability
- Pediatrics
- Environmental Adaptation
- Care Management
- Equipment for Daily Living
- Research
In these places:
- Community centers
- Education establishments
- Hospitals
- Home Health
- Industrial and Commercial organizations
- Residential and Nursing homes
- Social Services
- Schools
- Charities and Voluntary agencies
OT Within an Interdisciplinary Team
• Collaborate with physical therapy, speech
therapy, nursing, medicine, social work
– Be a team player!
• Work closely with team members and
sometimes overlap
• Team approach offers patient best care
– Assessments from a variety of perspectives
– Each brings different insights
• OT helps patients find meaning and
– Use abilities to participate in occupations
• Maximize treatment and outcomes
– Communication is key!
• Advocate for the patient
Occupational Therapy Process
• To begin treatment…
we need a physician referral!
• In an initial evaluation, we look at a patient’s
occupational performance and individual
• We assess a person’s performance skills
related to specific tasks, including one’s
– Motor skills,
– Process skills, and
– Communication/interaction skills.
• The culmination of these areas allows an
individual to participate in daily life
Services Offered
• ADL and IADL Training
– ADL stands for “Activities of Daily Living”
– These can include bathing, dressing,
grooming, and other activities that are basic
to our daily lives
– We assist individuals in improving function
through participation in ADL. We may
suggest adaptive equipment, provide verbal
cues for sequencing, work on problem
solving, and assess an individual’s ability to
perform ADL safely
Services Offered
– Instrumental Activities of Daily Living
• These are more complex activities that we
routinely do to take care of ourselves and others
and contribute to society
– These may include money management, community
mobility, child rearing, and meal preparation
• One of the most important factors in an
individual’s return home is his or her
ability to be safe within the home
• We address cognition as it relates to
participation in occupation
– Is an individual able to problem solve
through meal preparation?
• If not, what sort of external cues might he or she
need to be successful?
Neuromuscular Re-Education
• Physical agent modalities, such as
Functional Electrical Stimulation, may be
used in addition to functional reaching
exercises to regain muscle strength and
use after a stroke.
• Gross and fine motor coordination may
be compromised after a neurological
insult. OTs assist in regaining
coordination for functional activities.
Upper-Extremity Splinting
• To increase an individual’s ability to
participate in occupations, sometimes
splinting intervention is indicated to
stabilize the wrist and hand and assist in
the healing process
• We splint for such conditions as:
– Carpal Tunnel
– Radial Nerve Palsy
– Tendinitis
Home Safety Evaluation
• Recommendations for Durable Medical
Equipment (DME)
– Some examples include: Wheelchair, walker,
bedside commode, shower chair, and cane
• Tips for preventing accidents and falls
– Color-code knobs on stove or washer/dryer for
people with low vision
– Remove throw rugs to prevent falls
• Recommendations for home modifications to
improve safety, security, and independence
– Ramp construction
– Bathroom or kitchen modifications for accessibility
Work and Community Integration
• Ergonomic evaluations and
recommendations for work and
home modifications
• Driving evaluations
• Work capacity evaluation
and work hardening
Patient, Family, & Caregiver Education
• Where is education provided?
– In a variety of settings such as: Hospice, hospital, rehabilitation,
inpatient and outpatient, skilled nursing facility, schools, and
home health
• What is included with patient, family, & caregiver
– Self-treatment or caregiver techniques
– ADL re-training
• Eating, dressing, or personal hygiene
– Precautions after surgeries (i.e., hip replacement)
– Use of adaptive equipment for functional activity
• Reacher, sock aid, sliding board for transfers
– Prosthetic training
– Pain management
Assistive Technology
• Assistive technology is provided for physical,
sensory, or cognitive disabilities. Some examples
– Wheelchairs: seating systems and communication boards
– Low Vision: magnifiers, enhanced lighting, and color
• Adaptive household equipment is also available for
functional needs:
– Bathing, dressing, grooming, driving,
cooking, and other occupations
Common Diagnoses
• Neurological Disorders
Traumatic Brain Injury
Parkinson’s Disease
Multiple Sclerosis
Alzheimer’s Disease
Spinal Cord Injury
• Repetitive Strain Injuries
– Back Pain
– Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Common Diagnoses (Cont.)
• Mental Health
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder
Major Depressive Disorder
• Developmental Disabilities
Cerebral Palsy
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Developmental Delays
Learning Disabilities
Common Diagnoses (Cont.)
• Other Common Diagnoses
Hand Injuries
Low Vision
Musculoskeletal Trauma
Sensory Dysfunction
Chronic Pain
Benefits to the Patient
• Adaptation to environment or restoration of
• Ability to participate more fully in occupations
• Faster recovery
• Improved quality of life
• Enhanced outcomes
• Prevention
– Unnecessary hospital stays
– Work-related injuries
Any questions?
American Occupational Therapy Association. (1995). Position Paper:
Occupation. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 49,