Occupational therapy concerns promotion of good health and overall wellbeing of an individual by engaging that particular person in specific occupational activities. It aims at providing individuals with opportunities to build up their health through engagement in purposeful activities throughout their lifetimes. Occupational therapy is often carried out by well trained professionals referred to as occupational therapists.
Historical information shows that occupational therapy started during the era of Hippocrates. According to Meriano and Latella, Hippocrates discovered that massaging a painful part of the body helped in relieving pain. Hippocrates, who is also recognized as the father of medicine, termed this process as hydrotherapy (2007). In early 1870’s, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy developed different techniques of therapy other than massaging. Additionally, during World War I, many people were taught how to minimize pains on soldiers who were injured during the fights. This laid the foundation for the modern-day occupational therapy.
Description of Occupational Therapy
According to Radomski and Latham, occupational therapy is client-centered in nature, thus, it gives more importance and focus on the patients’ welfare. They further assert that patients are an integral and fundamental part of the whole treatment process, and thus, they should be given adequate considerations (2008). In occupational therapy, the patients or clients are assisted in realizing their goals and objectives in life through personalized and customized interventions of professional therapists. Occupational therapy aims at helping the individual to improve his or her ability in performing various tasks on a daily basis towards the achievement of the set goals. It also entails close monitoring and detailed evaluation of the outcomes of the therapy at different stages of the program. According to Dunbar, occupational therapy focuses on developing skills that facilitate the ability of an individual to adapt to the environment with much ease (2007). Similarly, it may also call for modification of an individual’s lifestyle, continuous training and education of the patient as well as increased participation of the client in routine activities.
Occupational therapy entails a detailed review and analysis of the client’s current environment, for example, workplace or school conditions, and then developing appropriate strategies and recommendations for adapting to the changed environment. Occupational therapy provides guidance and counseling to clients, parents, caregivers, and other concerned parties who may provide assistance to the patient. In my view, occupational therapy is a habitual and behavioral process. It is more of rehabilitation and involves no or less use of medications.
Most people believe that occupational therapy is for adults with social problems only. In contrast to this misleading belief, occupational therapy can be carried out on any person with definite and identifiable areas for further improvements and developments such as growing children, regardless of their age. In school-going children, occupational therapy can be used to improve learning and thus, improve their performance at school. It is also important to note that the term occupational does not imply formal job employment.
As the American Occupational Therapy Association puts it forward, occupational therapy does not only entail taking care of a person’s physical well-being, but rather dealing with psychological, socio-cultural as well as other factors operating within the external environment of that particular person (Christiansen, Baum & Bass-Haugen, 2005). It tackles the various factors, which may affect the normal functioning and performance of a person. These aspects of occupational therapy make it a vital technique in achieving personal goals and improving an individual’s life. Additionally, the College of Occupational Therapists illustrates that occupational therapy is the only way of making people achieve the best they would with their lives. It enables people reap the most out of various endeavors in life.
Importance of Occupational Therapy
In my opinion, occupational therapy involves helping physically, psychologically and emotionally disabled people to be productive individuals in the society. The main goal of occupational therapy is to recover the normal lifestyle of a person after occurrence of particular destructive changes. It helps people to live their lives to the fullest. Occupational therapy programs are centered at helping people to attain personal independence in various aspects of their lives. For example, it can help children with various weaknesses such as poor social or communication skills to develop these skills properly and effortlessly. Similarly, it can be used to offer encouragement to individuals who have low self-esteem by giving such people a sense of independence and accomplishment.
Occupational Therapy Process
Occupational therapy involves identification of various problems, weaknesses or challenges that are faced by an individual. An occupational therapist thus has to analytically examine the current situation or condition of the patient and then formulate or develop appropriate recommendations and practical solutions that can be used in tackling the problems or challenges. This may include development of techniques for improving the patient’s condition. It may also involve modifying personal behaviors or the environment as well as acquisition of equipment to improve one’s performance and independence.
Occupation therapies are performed on individuals who are either physically or psychologically challenged. Such patients often need assistance in order to develop fully in a normal way. In most cases, occupational therapy is used to help people with disabilities such as handicapped children or elderly people.
According to Thew, occupational therapy can be performed on an individual who encounters difficulties in performing day-to-day activities (2011). Such people may include accident victims who suffer from physical disabilities, children with learning difficulties, persons with poor mental health or psychological problems as well as patients who are suffering from diseases like elephantiasis. Accordingly, occupational therapists often work with people from all spheres of life, regardless of their ages. Occupational therapy services can be provided both at home, school, and at the workplace.
When to Use Occupational Therapy
In my opinion, occupational therapy can be used in treating a variety of health issues or conditions. For example, it can be used in managing birth defects that arise immediately after birth, health problems that result from old age and victimizations due to accidents. Occupational therapy can also be used as a rehabilitation program for facilitating recovery from injuries or medical operations. It can also be used in suppressing depression developed by accident survivors.
Dunbar asserts that occupational therapy has been successfully used in treating arthritis, sclerosis, and schizophrenia. In children, occupational therapy can be used to help children with Down’s syndrome, difficulty in movement and coordination of body parts due to dyspraxia, or difficulties in learning, especially amongst school going children (2007). It can also be used in children born with body defects such as problems with the nervous and spinal systems.
Additionally, occupational therapy can be used in treatment of elderly people suffering from depression resulting from staying alone as a result of the depart or separation of family members. Moreover, occupational therapy can be used in treating victims of accidents, prolonged illnesses or patients who have undergone medical surgeries. This will enable them regain independent body functionality after developing body weaknesses from bone fractures, injuries or nervous infections by diseases such as stroke.
Occupational Therapy Techniques
For occupational therapy to be successful, the therapist should identify the sources of the problems faced by the patient. He or she can then assist the patient by providing education on the most appropriate ways of dealing with the problems or give recommendations on possible changes that may be required for effective management of the situation. For instance, if a patient is feeling uneasy, fretful or stressed, the therapist may recommend increased involvement in exercises and sporting activities. The patient may also practice periodic breathes to cause relaxation.
Moreover, a therapist may also encourage the patients in developing different thinking or perspectives about activities, life issues and challenges. The occupational therapist must always encourage and facilitate optimism or positive thinking. He or she can also advice the patient to develop increased interest towards activities that the patient enjoys the most. The patient should be encouraged to pay adequate attention and concentration on such activities.
Furthermore, occupational therapy should make it possible for patients to easily develop life skills such as social skills, communication and interpersonal skills. Adapting to changes in the new environment should be encouraged at all costs. Modifying the environment can also be an appropriate approach in occupational therapy, for example, a wheelchair belonging to a physically challenged patient may be modified by putting ramps on it for an easy access by the patient. Similarly, stairs may be fitted with grab-rails to ease locomotion of persons with disabilities in such places. Patients undergoing occupational therapy may be encouraged to use special tools or equipments such as walking sticks, special mice and voice recognition software for their computers.
Last but not least, patients may also try changing for themselves the environment they are already familiar with, for instance, a patient who can use a walking stick to go to the washrooms, can try going to a nearby kiosk using the same walking sticks. By so doing, the patient will learn how to walk for long distances using the walking stick.
Importance of Occupational Therapy
Occupational therapy has numerous benefits that accrue to the patients. Firstly, it helps in minimizing the disfunctioning of body parts. Other than living productive lives, occupational therapy also helps in developing good careers, especially in school going children. It also encourages self-care and personal independence. Patients often learn how to do things on their own. Similarly, it motivates patients to look or go beyond the problems, thereby giving hope to the hopeless individuals.
In my opinion, people should always get engaged in fulfilling and satisfying tasks or activities whether they are under occupational therapy or not. This will help in building self-esteem, self-confidence as well as acting as a motivator in achieving personal goals. For physically challenged persons, it is necessary for therapists to develop systematic approaches that are based on the individuals’ problems and thus, be able to create opportunities for the patients in achieving life goals. This will entail continuous monitoring and evaluation of the occupational therapy process. In my view, a good occupational therapy should be able to encourage people to work towards attaining the fulfillment of their lifetime goals. Therapists should therefore promote functional and quality techniques during the treatment process. Such remedies should facilitate adaptation to the newly changed environment.