What Exactly is Occupational Therapy

April is Occupational Therapy Month! But what IS Occupational Therapy (OT)? In simple terms, OT teaches you how to adapt. If your ability to perform your everyday responsibilities is ever impacted due to an illness or injury, occupational therapy can help. Those everyday responsibilities may have included going to work in earlier years, but now it may include attending exercise classes, venturing out on the walking trails, or participating in social events like the Lunch Bunch. OT is a branch of skilled therapy that helps people regain independence in all areas of their lives, and helps with barriers that impact a person’s emotional, social, and/or physical needs. So, even if you’re retired, occupational therapy can still be beneficial for you! 

OTs use their knowledge of the structure and function of the human body and the effects of illness and injury to increase your involvement in daily activities. OTs teach individuals how to manage stress and fatigue and prevent re-injury. They are also the experts in home safety and fall prevention and can advise on environmental modifications or improvements. 

During therapy sessions, OTs will also work with the wellness and activities department to determine the best programs after your therapy is completed. This may include specific exercise classes and events, personal training, home exercise programs, or a combination of these services. Therapy partners with other departments to ensure you are engaging in the most appropriate and effective exercises and programming possible. For example, if you were receiving occupational therapy for trouble with grip strength, after being discharged, your therapist may recommend you start attending Pinecone Painters or Hobby Pines Group to continue to challenge and focus on exercising your hand and grip strength. 

Brittany Austin, National Director of Health and Wellness, Functional Pathways