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What is Occupational Therapy?
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The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) defines occupational therapy as the therapeutic use of everyday life activities (occupations) with individuals or groups for the purpose of participation in roles and situations in home, school, workplace, community, and other settings. Occupational therapy services are provided for the purpose of promoting health and wellness and to those who have or are at risk for developing an illness, injury, disease, disorder, condition, impairment, disability, activity limitation, or participation restriction. Occupational therapy addresses the physical, cognitive, psychosocial, sensory, and other aspects of performance in a variety of contexts to support engagement in everyday life activities that affect health, well-being, and quality of life” (AOTA, 2004).

Occupational therapy is a profession that uses the things you we do everyday, what we refer to as your referred to as occupations, to support, enhance and enable performance and optimal function. Occupational therapy practitioners concern themselves with how people engage in meaningful and purposeful occupations in the performance areas of activities of daily living (ADL), work and productive activities, and play/leisure. According to the WHO (1986), health is "the extent to which an individual or group is able, on the one hand, to realize aspirations and satisfy needs, and, on the other hand, to change or cope with the environment” (p. 74).

Practitioners in occupational therapy work with all ages from infants to the elderly. The occupations of infants include sleeping, eating and exploration activities of their physical, social and cultural worlds. With children the occupations include self-maintenance, play and school. Adolescent and young adult occupations include preparation for adult occupations of work, forming intimate relationships, social engagement and community involvement, and managing tasks of life independently such as money management and transportation. Occupations of adults include categories of employment, home management, care of others, and leisure. Older adult occupations must accommodate changes in personal and physical capacities and ideally contribute to healthy aging and quality of life.

Occupational therapy services are provided to improve performance in the client’s occupations, to compensate for or resolve impairments, and, in some cases, to reduce the impact of disease or disorders.

The work of occupational therapists takes place in a variety of settings some of which include hospitals, outpatient clinics, residential facilities, schools, day-care facilities, homeless shelters, long-term care facilities, and homes. The needs of the client dictate the types of setting utilized by practitioners.

References:

American Occupational Therapy Association. (1995d). Position paper: Occupation. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 49, 1015-1018.

Neistadt, M. E., & Crepeau, E. B. (1998). Introduction to occupational therapy. In M. E. Neistadt & E. B. Crepeau (Eds.), Willard and Spackman’s occupational therapy (9th ed., pp. 5-12). Philadelphia: Lippincott.

World Health Organization. (1986). A discussion document on the concept and principles of health promotion. Health Promotion, 1, 73-78.


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