In order to assist people to live life the way they want to, Occupational Therapists work through a process of assessing the individual and their unique circumstances, developing an action plan and supporting the individual and their support network towards achieving the identified goals.
Stages of treatment
An OT treatment program typically involves three stages:
- Evaluation – the abilities of the person are assessed in the context of their work, school, home, leisure, general lifestyle and family situation.
- Consultation – having made an assessment, the occupational therapist then consults with the person, other professionals and family members who may be closely involved, to develop a treatment program.
- Treatment – this may take place in a clinic, hospital ward, residential care centre or at the person’s home, school or workplace. The goal is always to improve skills for living.
This process takes into consider the person, environment fit whereby occupations (consisting of valued roles, tasks, and activities that are personal to the individual) and individual performance are evaluated. This uses the interactions of a person’s intrinsic factors (such as psychological, physiological, cognitive, spiritual, and neurobehavioral factors) and environmental factors (aka. Extrinsic factors such as social supports, economic systems, culture, built environment and technology, and the natural environment) that either support or restrict the performance of activities, tasks, and roles of that person to support them holistically.
Standardized and non-standardized (formal and informal) assessment tools that are guided by an appropriate theoretical framework enables therapists to further delineate assessment results. This in turn helps to develop a treatment plan that enables the client to successfully engage their environment.
People can experience challenges at different stages of their life. The following list includes only a few examples of the services Occupational Therapists Provide:
Physical (assessment of current needs with future changes considered)
- Pelvis: Obliquity, anterior/posterior tilt, rotation; fixed or difficult to correct.
- AROM & PROM: hips, knees, ankles, neck, trunk, UE
- Strength: Upper limbs and lower limbs and trunk
- Mechanical issues: leg length discrepancy, contractures, spinal deformities, windswept deformities, joint inflammation and deformities
- Sensory: sensation, hearing, vision, pain
- Other: Skin integrity, balance, tone, vertigo, coordination
- Memory, judgment, problem solving, reasoning, comprehension
- Assessment of cognition to identify strengths and weaknesses
- Development of individualised treatment plan to support maximisation of the individual’s potential to achieve their goals.
- Mental health, emotional acceptance and readiness, motivation, initiation
- Activities of Daily Living: Bathing, toileting, dressing, grooming, feeding
- Functional mobility: stairs, bed transfers, car transfers
- Persona hygiene
- Showering, drying and dressing
- Toileting habits, including incontinence
- Ability to consume adequate nutrition to promote health and wellbeing
- IADLs: meal prep, cleaning, laundry, shopping
- Paid or volunteer work, schoolwork, play skills
- Quiet recreation, active recreation (sports, travel, outings), socialization
- Physical barriers in home and community
- Applying universal design principles to homes, buildings, parks and other public facilities so people of all abilities can participate in all the activities of daily living. This prevents unnecessary dependency and unemployment (CAOT, 2003c).
- Using technology so clients have a chance to maximize their potential and the freedom of increased independence. Occupational therapists ensure the proper fit for individuals in their environment to enable them to do what’s important to them. This may mean simple adaptations to a seniors’ home to prevent falls and conserve energy. It could also be the prescribing of high-tech equipment that enables a person with a high-level spinal cord injury to live independently (CAOT, 2003a).
- Designing stress management, assertiveness training and other lifestyle-management programs to assist people to cope with the stresses of everyday living (Krupa, Radloff-Gabriel, Whippey, & Kirsh, 2002; Lamb 2003).
- Support for large institutions to enhance policies, laws, enforcement of laws, (customer service, information and communications, transportation, built environment).
- Support for institutions to foster and environment which supports health and well-being for all.
- Personal and community attitudes, beliefs, ie: integration, equality, access.
- Support from family, friends; involvement in community