People living with a physical, mental or cognitive ailment need special care and treatment to recover and maintain work skills and live daily life to its fullest. Occupational therapy does that. Occupational therapy is a healthcare profession which specializes in providing therapeutic help to people that have a physical or cognitive handicap to lead normal lives in terms of maintaining the activities that are essential for their daily living. Occupational therapy is essentially client based. It provides tailor made solutions for each individual. Professional occupational therapists do this by adopting a customized approach for each individual client. The occupational therapist works closely with each client in order to discover their personal preferences and goals and then design activities that could assist them in accomplishing those goals. By nature of their work, occupational therapists collaborate with other social workers such as nurses, speech and physical therapists and even the community.
It is doubtless that human life finds meaning, expression and fulfillment through occupation. Each day, human beings go through essentially the same activities that encompasses the whole gamut of human social and economic interactions as well as recreation. These activities may be classified into those activities that enable us to perform or fulfill our life roles, those that enable us to define ourselves or to express our individuality as well as those that are creative or help us to bring out the potentials of our world for the benefit of all. It is quite true that being deprived of the ability to function in any or all of these domains of activity to a reasonable degree takes away the joy and the beauty of living and limits our humanity essentially. It is in this regard that the work of occupational therapists is essential. However, defining our activities in these three basic domains is rather inadequate on its own because there is a high degree of subjectivity to all of human experiences. For instance, what constitutes a chore or a bore to one person might actually bring pleasure and a profound sense of fulfillment to another.
Basically, occupational therapists do their work in three co-dependent stages. First of all, they interview the client and work with him closely to determine his life goals. Secondly, they develop customised programs that will enable him to work towards achieving those goals and then periodically they carry out an evaluation to see if those goals are being achieved. They may devise occupational activities to fit in with the client’s preferences or they may customize the environment in order to achieve the desired effect.