Occupational Therapy Can Help You Live More Independently

Asian Chinese female physiologist home caregiver encouraging senior woman exercising with her legs cycling

Occupational Therapy Month is celebrated every April to focus on the meaningful difference occupational therapy can make in people’s lives. There are over 134,000 occupational therapists in the U.S., including our own here at LifeSource. Their services can help with a wide range of recovery and adjustment needs. Here’s a quick primer on what occupational therapy is and what it looks like.

What is occupational therapy?

Occupational therapy helps people live more independently. The focus is on making sure individuals can do those everyday life activities (called occupations) which bring meaning and purpose to life. Some occupation examples include taking care of yourself or your family, being able to work or volunteer, staying independent while aging, or managing health and wellbeing with a chronic condition.

Hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, outpatient clinics, and personal homes are some of the places where occupational therapy can happen. Occupational therapists help their clients with activities such as:

  • Re-learning daily skills, like dressing or cooking
  • Practicing skills for school, work or free time
  • Improving movement, perception, concentration and memory
  • Modifying and structuring a daily routine
  • Using a walker or prosthesis

The goals and activities are always centered on the individual’s needs and circumstances.

What does working with an occupational therapist look like?

The first thing an occupational therapist will do is listen. They want to learn about your day-to-day and what is important to you. Additionally, they will review your medical condition and how it impacts your life in order to understand how your everyday functions might have changed over time. This interview is part of a formal evaluation that will include an assessment of health measures like pain, joint range of motion, mental health, coordination, and level of assistance needed.

After the evaluation, the occupational therapist and individual develop goals together that align with the referral for therapy and are measurable. Some examples of goals are being able to walk around the block or remember a grocery shopping list. The occupational therapist will then craft a personalized schedule of interventions to reach all goals. Frequency of sessions and length of time required are essential parts of this plan, as well.

Sessions then begin to work toward goals. Often, the individual will need to do activities outside of the scheduled sessions to meet their goal. The patient should ask questions and be sure they thoroughly understand the purpose and process of the therapy.

Whether it’s a child with autism, a wounded warrior, or a senior recovering from surgery, occupational therapy can help people reach their health goals and live a fuller life. 

Sources: US Bureau of Labor Statistics; National Library of Medicine; American Occupational Therapy Association; VeryWell Health.

Categories: Home health, Senior Health