Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy facilitates function of the individual to promote accomplishment of occupational pursuits. Occupational pursuits vary depending on individual age or interest and may include hobbies, sports, or vocational pursuits. Occupational therapists frequently assist the individual in performing meaningful tasks in three performance areas: self-care, work, and play. Overall performance level of the task and barriers to performance may be analyzed by the occupational therapist. Specific components of the task, including sensory processing, perceptual processing, attention, neurological status, motor control, cognition, and psychosocial processing, may also be assessed.

Therapeutic techniques implemented to assist the individual with independent task performance may focus on the task, the person, and the environment. For example, the individual may perform muscle strengthening or range of motion exercises to build strength and joint motion required to perform the task. The use of task adaptation may also be addressed. A universal holder to stabilize the hand during writing, switches for communication, and adaptive utensils for feeding are three examples. Environmental modifications, such as the installment of ramps to access a playground, may also be implemented.

In the area of task adaptation, occupational therapists serve a vital role in determining the appropriate type of augmentative/alternative communication aide that may be necessary to accomplish daily tasks. To promote independence in daily activities, electronic aids and/or devices are available to assist the individual to access and control his or her environment. Switches are useful to teach children cause-and-effect relationships and may be used as electronic aids for a variety of daily tasks. Examples include head switches or hand switches to activate a toy, blender, or television. Keyguards preventing unwanted keystrokes, touch screens, mobile arm supports, and computer mice with various methods of activation, are but a few of the devices available to improve computer accessibility for an individual with a disability.

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