Occupational Therapy

What is occupational therapy?

Illness or injury can make it hard to do some of the everyday things you used to do. Occupational therapy (OT) helps you regain these skills or learn new ways to do things. For example, you may learn new ways to:

  • Eat
  • Cook
  • Bathe and dress
  • Do common household tasks
  • Keep doing your usual work activities

When is it used?

You may need OT if you have had:

  • Broken bones that make it hard to do everyday tasks
  • A hand injury or surgery
  • Joint replacement surgery
  • A stroke or other condition that makes it hard to move some parts of your body
  • Lung disease
  • A head injury
  • A severe vision problem, including blindness
  • Any illness or injury that affects your ability to do your job

The therapist can check your ability to care for yourself. He or she can help you know what kind of help you may need or show you special tools to make caring for yourself easier and safer.

How does it work?

OT can be done in a hospital or skilled nursing facility, in a clinic, or at home. The kind of therapy you have depends on what you need help with. The therapist may:

  • Teach you how to use special equipment, such as reachers, special kitchen utensils, or shower stools and grab bars.
  • Make hand splints and show you how to do hand exercises.
  • Check out your home or workplace and suggest ways you can do things more easily and safely.
  • Help you get the right equipment you need. For example, the therapist may:
    • Fit a wheelchair to your needs and body size.
    • Help get an artificial leg to fit and work correctly.

What is the difference between occupational and physical therapy?

Occupational therapy looks at how you will do basic tasks. Physical therapy (PT) looks at how your body moves and works after an illness or injury. PT can help you regain muscle strength, balance, and your ability to control your movements. It often involves exercises so you can get stronger and move around better.

Physical and occupational therapists often work together to help you. After serious injury or illness, many people have both types of therapy.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-10-30
Last reviewed: 2014-10-30
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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