Getting to understand occupational therapy

The Occupational Therapy Association of SA (OTASA) defines occupational therapy as a client-centred health profession concerned with promoting health and well-being through occupation. Its main goal is to enable people to participate in everyday activities like walking, executing work tasks or daily tasks like washing and dressing. OT is divided into three main sections – paediatrics, physical rehabilitation and mental health.   Paediatrics focuses on helping a child succeed in the activities expected of them at each age milestone – like crawling, walking and engaging in school activities. If they do not succeed in these age-appropriate activities, delays may be seen in schooling later on. OTs also work with children with mental and physical disabilities, providing functional skills for them and those on the autism spectrum.
Physical rehabilitation involves designing and implementing a rehab intervention programme specific to each patient and possibly visiting the patient’s home and/or place of work for environmental modification. This is to ensure they are able to participate in their occupations and to assess their ability to access and move around their community.  Environmental modification may include using adaptive equipment or assistive devices. Patients who fall under the physical   rehabilitation section include strokes, spinal cord injuries, arthritis, hand trauma, amputations, burns, traumatic brain injury, neurological disorders and motor vehicle accidents.
With regards to mental health, an OT must understand how earlier life issues and relevant medical conditions interact, affect mental illness and impact on the patient’s activities. OTs provide mental health intervention by using activities and promote prevention and wellness in each patient with mental health problems. Therapists see patients with depression, bipolar mood disorder and schizophrenia, among others.
If you are or know of anyone suffering from any of the above, contact the rehab department at the Parys District Hospital on (056) 816 2154. Early intervention often    leads to better results. (Reference: MAS Medical Staffing Corporation; OTASA)

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