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What is the Role of an Occupational Therapist?

TherapistIf you have ever been affected by an accident, injury, or medical emergency, you probably have a real understanding of how your life can change in an instant.  Something as simple as getting dressed or driving a car can become impossible.  Pain can become a constant variable while performing daily tasks.  Fortunately, there are medical professionals who have the training, compassion and dedication to assist accident victims with their everyday needs.

Occupational Therapy is the science of enabling individuals to engage in the various tasks they are required to do in everyday life.  Often people are misinformed about the role of this type of healthcare professional, because they assume their title refers specifically to workplace rehabilitation.  Although this may be a component of their practice, Occupational Therapists work with people of all ages and abilities.

Following an illness or injury, an OT may be required to help a patient re-learn simple tasks such as dressing or cooking.  If a person has become disabled, an OT may be required to assess their limitations and make recommendations regarding in-home care.  Sometimes, the OT will help introduce new material or equipment, such as a wheelchair or prosthetic limb.  Occupational Therapists are typically employed by health care organizations, rehabilitation centres and clinics.  Many of these professionals focus on a particular specialization, such as working with the elderly, individuals affected by mental illness or personal injury patients.

If an accident has resulted in physical challenges for an individual, an OT may be brought in to assist with making changes to their living space or working environment.  They can make recommendations to simplify routine tasks and assist with pain management.  An OT may only be required for one or two appointments, or they could work with a patient for several years.  There is also a psychological aspect to the role of an OT.  When an individual deals with a disability or a sudden personal limitation, they are often affected mentally and emotionally as well.  Perhaps the patient requires some help handling social situations or overcoming anxiety.  The OT can assist them in build their confidence, confronting fears, and help them address psychological challenges head on.

The Ontario Society of Occupational Therapists has shared dozens of success stories.  The qualified professionals have changed the lives of children with disabilities, people with unique challenges entering the workforce, and many other inspiring stories.

Rayma was a 30-year-old accountant with a busy career.  A sudden car accident changed her life in an instant.  Rayma became a paraplegic.  With the help of her OT, Rayma has been working to regain her independence and enjoy many of the things that she loved to do before the accident.  Her OT performed a comprehensive analysis to help her choose a wheelchair that was suitable for her size and transportation needs.  Rayma also experienced anxiety over getting behind the wheel of a car again.   Her OT helped her face her fears and recommended a driver rehab program that would help her re-learn how to drive with hand controls.  Once she has completed the program, Rayma will have the confidence to drive herself and will no longer need to rely on public transportation.

An accident can change someone’s life in a split second, but it’s reassuring to know there are caring professionals available to help accident victims heal and reach their full potential.

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