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You might not realize it, but there’s a good chance an occupational therapist has impacted some aspect of your life. Occupational therapy helps people develop, improve or regain the ability to live as independently as possible. Our name comes from the fact that we are concerned with all the things people do on a daily basis while engaged in the “occupation of living.” This includes just about everything an individual does, from the moment they wake up to the time they go to bed, and, as you can imagine, encompasses a wide range of activities. We work with every age, from newborns to senior citizens and all the ages in between. It is perhaps for this reason why occupational therapy is often difficult to explain. The overall goal of the occupational therapist is to increase a person’s ability to perform all these tasks and activities as independently as possible, with the greatest amount of self-satisfaction.
Specifically, occupational therapy is the therapeutic use of work, self-care and play activities to increase development and prevent disability. It may include the adaptation of a task or the environment to achieve maximum independence, enhancing the quality of life. Occupational therapists focus on the “doing” whatever occupations or activities are meaningful to the individual. It is the therapist’s purpose to get beyond problems and find the solutions that assure that an individual is living life to its fullest. These solutions may be adaptations for how to do a task, changes to the surroundings, or helping individuals to alter their own behaviors.