Occupational therapy helps people make lifestyle or environmental changes when they experience injury, illness or disability. By looking at a client’s psychological, physical, emotional, and social make-up, occupational therapy assists people to achieve their goals, function at the highest possible level, maintain or rebuild their independence and participate in the everyday activities of life.
Children and Youth
Pediatric occupational therapy professionals provide service to infants, toddlers, children, and youth and their families in a variety of settings including schools, clinics, hospitals, and homes. Under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) regulations, occupational therapy practitioners also participate in broad new initiatives such as early intervening services and response-to-intervention to promote optimum learning. Pediatric occupational therapy practitioners provide support to families and collaborate with other disciplines such as special educators, teachers, and other medical and therapy practitioners.
Health & Wellness
Health promotion is a prevention strategy that allows people to manage and improve their overall health status. Occupational therapy practitioners play an important role in achieving this. Their unique perspective helps clients adapt and organize their daily occupations or activities related to self-care, home management, community participation, education, work and/or leisure into daily routines to prevent and minimize dysfunction, promote and develop a healthy lifestyle, and facilitate adaptation and recovery from injury, disease, or developmental challenges.
Rehabilitation, Disability & Participation
Rehabilitation is at the core of occupational therapy and addresses the needs of persons with injuries, illnesses, or deficits in occupational performance due to other causes. Occupational therapy services are provided in outpatient clinics or private practices; inpatient acute care or rehabilitation units of hospitals; skilled nursing and assisted living facilities; and home or other community-based venues. Interventions address a broad variety of diagnoses such as orthopedic injuries, neurological or cardiopulmonary disease, spinal cord and other trauma, chronic conditions (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis), low vision, and driver rehabilitation.
Work & Industry
Occupational therapy practitioners perform ergonomic analysis, fit-for-duty programs and injury prevention and training that keep workers on the job, reduce costs, and improve productivity.
The World Health Organization has identified mental illness as a growing cause of disability worldwide and predicts that, in the future, mental illness—specifically depression—will be the top cause of disability. Occupational therapy brings a collaborative rehabilitation approach to mental health treatment in keeping with the recent trend toward increased emphasis on recovery and functionality.
Our society's rapidly aging population, increased longevity, the changing world of work, and baby boomers’ focus on quality-of-life issues are just some of the factors that will increase the need for occupational therapy services in this area. Productive aging involves care of self and others, management of home, engagement in leisure and physical activities, civic engagement, and social interaction which can involve travel, entertaining, and visiting with friends.
(edited and reprinted from AOTA promotional materials)