How does occupational therapy help?

Because of Occupational Therapy”. A short animated video produced by UBC students (2012).

Occupational therapy stories and facts. 23 snapshots of how occupational therapy services make a difference. 

Products receiving the CAOT Seal of Recognition. Select products are awarded a CAOT Seal of Recognition to help consumers make an informed choice.  

A day in the life of an occupational therapist:

An occupational therapist will try to find out why a client cannot do what they would like or need to do.  An OT may check:

  • Your physical abilities like strength, balance and coordination
  • Your mental abilities like memory, coping strategies, organizational skills
  • What materials or devices you use to participate in activities like furniture, utensils, tools or clothes
  • What social and emotional support is available to you at home, school, work or in the community, and
  • The physical setup of your house, classroom, workplace or other environment

Depending on what the problem is, the occupational therapist can help you solve it by:

1. Helping you overcome your disability. OTs do this by:

  • educating or instructing you on how to do things with the abilities you have - e.g. getting around your community in a wheelchair
  • suggesting activities that will help you improve or maintain the abilities you have - e.g. improving your coping strategies

2. Adapting the materials you use.  OTs do this by changing the things you use:

  • around the house – e.g. a special key holder to make turning keys easier
  • in sports or leisure activities – e.g. a playing cards holder
  • at work or school – e.g. special tools that help prevent injury to hands and back
  • to take care of yourself – e.g. special bath or toilet seats
  • to get from place to place – e.g. car modifications such as one-handed steering wheels

3. Recommending changes to the environments where you do your everyday activities. OTs do this by recommending that you:

  • change the physical layout of your workplace, home or school – e.g. lowering/raising desk tops, countertops or cupboards
  • find out about the supports in your community – e.g. specialized public transportation
  • work with the people in your community – e.g. providing education about a disability to the teacher or employer
  • work with the government to encourage health living – e.g. request funding for special equipment

Through client-centred care, occupational therapists not only help overcome barriers but help prevent:

  • unnecessary hospital stays and readmissions
  • premature moves to a nursing home
  • work injuries due to poor work station positioning and other organizational strains
  • school dropouts due to poor attention spans or reading and writing difficulties
  • unemployment among people with a developmental disability or a mental illness