October is Occupational Therapist Appreciation Month!

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October is the month to appreciate all that your Occupational Therapist does. But what exactly does an Occupational Therapist do?

What is an Occupational Therapist?

The word “Occupational” in Occupational Therapy is a bit misleading; it might make you think that it only concerns workplace therapy, but this is not the case. Occupational Therapists are healthcare professionals that help you resume or continue many tasks, including in the workplace, but also focusing on having fun at home, going out, caring for yourself, your home, your family, daily tasks, hobbies, and many more activities. If there is anything you’d like to be capable of doing, feel free to bring it up with your OT so you can work on strategies to accomplish all your goals.

What’s the difference between an Occupational Therapist and a Physiotherapist?

Occupational therapists often work on a team with physiotherapists, but their roles are different. Physiotherapists help people restore physical function; Occupational Therapists focus on how that function affects the ability to do the things that are important to them.

Where do Occupational Therapists work?

As health care professionals, occupational therapists work in a wide range of settings, including: care facilities, hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation centres, schools, nursing homes, home care, private practice, vocational programs, recreation centres, insurance companies, accessibility programs, health promotion, disability prevention & management, and more.

OTs work with people of all ages – infants to seniors – in many different ways.  Here are a few examples:

  • Working with children and teachers in a classroom to help children develop skills such as handwriting or computer use or to provide strategies to manage behaviours – skills that will make it easier for students to learn and thrive in school.
  • Working with patients admitted to hospital following a stroke or brain injury to assess and treat cognitive impairment – problems with the ability to think, remember or communicate – to help patients recover from or manage issues related to their condition.
  • Working with clients with mental illness in outpatient programs, to assist people living with schizophrenia or bipolar disorders to manage their conditions so they can live independently at home in the community. 
  • Working with clients to identify and purchase equipment, such as wheelchairs or bathroom safety devices, to ensure clients can safely return to or remain at home when their physical abilities have changed as a result of a condition such as multiple sclerosis or arthritis.
  • Working with clients following a workplace or motor vehicle injury to determine what the client may need in the future to be able perform their daily activities.
  • Working with clients, who have experienced a change in their physical or mental abilities, to return to work by adapting how they do their job, what type of job they do or making changes to the workplace environment.

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