What Do Occupational Therapists Do?

  1. Work collaboratively with clients of all ages to establish goals (i.e., what the person needs, wants or is expected to do)
  2. Consider the whole person:
    • age and developmental stage
    • medical history
    • physical skills such as strength, range of motion, balance, coordination, endurance
    • learning style, thinking skills, attention and memory
    • communication skills
    • sensory processing
    • social skills
    • motivation
    • emotion
    • personality
    • habits
    • social and cultural background and supports
    • spiritual beliefs
  3. Consider the environment where the activity occurs
  4. Analyze the activity (i.e., break it down into small steps to figure out what is making the activity so difficult for the client)
  5. Create a plan that may involve:
    • Teaching the client how to improve existing skills or develop new skills
    • Providing alternative ways of doing the activity (e.g., strategies or adaptive equipment)
    • Making changes to the environment where the activity occurs
    • Providing information and training to other people in the client’s circle of care (e.g., family members, teachers or personal support workers)
    • Occupational therapists may also collaborate with other health care providers such as physical therapists, speech-language pathologists, dieticians and physicians, as well as psychologists, behavioural therapists and teachers

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