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What Is Occupational Therapy?

What Is Occupational Therapy?

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Occupational therapy (OT) is a type of health care that helps people of all ages who have physical, sensory, or cognitive problems. OT can help them regain independence in all areas of their lives. Occupational therapists work in many different settings, including hospitals, schools, rehabilitation centers, mental health facilities, private practices. and children’s clinics.

LightHouse WholeHealth occupational therapists help with barriers that affect a child’s emotional, social, and physical needs. To do this, they use everyday activities, exercises, and other therapies. OT helps kids play, improves their school performance, and aids their daily activities. It also boosts their self- esteem, mental health and sense of accomplishment.

The two professional levels of occupational practice are:

  • Occupational therapist (OT): An OT has a 4-year bachelor’s degree in a related field (such as biology, psychology, or health science) and a master’s degree from an accredited occupational therapy program.
  • Occupational therapist assistant (OTA): An OTA has an associate’s degree from an accredited OTA program. They can carry out treatment plans developed by an OT but can’t do patient evaluations.


With OT, kids can:

  • Receive assist with getting equipment to help build their independence. These include wheelchairs, splints, bathing equipment, dressing devices, and communication aids.
  • Develop fine motor skills so they can grasp and release toys and develop good handwriting or computer skills.
  • Improve eye–hand coordination so they can play and do needed school skills such as bat a ball and copy from a blackboard.
  • Master basic life skills such as bathing, getting dressed, brushing teeth, and self-feeding.
  • Learn positive behaviors and social skills by practicing how they manage frustration and anger.


Occupational Therapy can help kids and teens who have:

  • Birth injuries or birth defects
  • Developmental delays
  • Sensory processing disorders
  • Autism
  • Traumatic injuries to the brain or spinal cord
  • Learning problems
  • Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
  • Mental health or behavioral problems
  • Orthopedic injuries and broken bones
  • Post-surgical conditions
  • Burns
  • Traumatic amputations
  • Spina bifida, cerebal palsey ,multiple sclerosis, and other chronic illnesses
  • Severe hand injuries
  • Cancer


How Do Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy Differ?

Occupational therapy helps with:

Fine motor skills (small-muscle movements made with the hands, fingers, and toes, such as grasping)

  • Visual-perceptual skills
  • Cognitive (thinking) skills
  • Sensory-processing problems


Physical therapy and occupational therapy both help improve kids’ quality of life, but there are differences. Physical Therapy helps with:

  • Pain
  • Strength
  • Joint range of motion
  • Endurance
  • Gross motor skills (large-muscle movements made with the arms, legs, feet, or entire body)


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