Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapy (OT) is skilled treatment that helps individuals achieve independence in all facets of their lives. There is a difference between physical and occupational therapy. Physical therapy focuses on joint range of motion, gross motor functioning, strength and pain, while occupational therapy focuses on fine motor skills, cognitive abilities, visual-perceptual skills and sensory-processing.

Occupational therapy assists people in developing skills necessary for independent and satisfying lives and restoration of functional skills after illness, injury or disease. OT treatments are designed to improve one's ability to perform daily activities. They may involve home and job site adaptive recommendations, performance and skills assessments and treatments, adaptive equipment recommendations, guidance to family members and caregivers, manual therapy and many other services. 

Occupational therapists help people participate in the things they want or need to do through the use of activities. This could mean helping injured individuals recover their skills, or helping older adults who are experiencing cognitive or physical changes. Our occupational therapists have many years of experience in hand therapy – both surgical and non-surgical cases.

Commonly Treated Conditions

Depending on your location, conditions treaded may include:

  • Autism
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Behavior problems (oppositional, meltdowns, difficulties with transitioning from setting to setting or task to task)
  • Brachial plexus injury
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Chromosomal abnormalities (including Down Syndrome)
  • Coordination dysfunction (clumsy, running into things, frequent falling)
  • Developmental delays
  • Delays in self-care skills (dressing, fasteners, grooming)
  • Difficulty with fine motor skills (pinching, manipulating small objects)
  • Difficulty with bilateral coordination (using both sides of the body together)
  • Difficulties with focus/ attention
  • Failure to Thrive
  • Feeding/ swallowing difficulties
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Intellectual Disability
  • Learning disorders
  • Pervasive developmental disorder (PDD)
  • Psychiatric disorders
  • Sensory processing difficulties (over- or under-sensitive to movement, sounds, touch, taste, sight)
  • Spina bifida
  • Seizure disorders
  • Traumatic brain injury
Common Treatment Options

Depending on your location, treatment options may include: 

  • Astronaut Training Program (Therapeutic Rotation Program; a specialized technique that provides specific movement input used in combination with other sensory treatment techniques to improve integration of the visual, movement and auditory systems)
  • Cognitive-perceptual retraining
  • Constraint Induced Movement Therapy (CIMT; encourages the use of the affected side by restraining the unaffected side)
  • Feeding/ swallowing treatment
  • Fine and gross motor strengthening, stretching, and endurance activities
  • Hippotherapy (therapy with/on a horse)
  • Interactive Metronome® (IM) (a computer-based program designed to improve timing, attention, and coordination in children and adults with a wide range of physical and cognitive difficulties, including ADHD and sensory processing difficulties)
  • Integrated Listening Systems (specific sound frequencies and patterns are delivered via specially designed headphones that include vibration; visual and balance activities are completed while listening)
  • Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (E-Stim, NMES; treatment technique used to provide sensory and motor input while the child is involved in an activity; unused or weak muscle is stimulated to promote motor learning, coordination, strengthening, increased range of motion, muscle re-education, or relaxation of muscle spasm)
  • Sensory Diet activities (tasks specifically chosen for an individual to complete at home and school on a daily basis to help that individual to receive the sensory input he or she needs to function well in all aspects of daily life)
  • Self-care skills training
  • Stabilized Pressure Input Orthosis (SPIO; Lycra-blend suits provide deep pressure input over a large surface of the body throughout the day)
  • Therapressure touch protocol (Wilbarger brushing program) (developed to decrease sensory defensiveness; involves applying deep pressure touch with a special brush throughout the day for calming and overall body awareness)
  • Therapeutic Listening Program (a structured program of listening to specially designed music that is individually selected for each child based on his or her problem areas; used along with sensory treatment techniques to treat individuals with sensory processing difficulties)
  • Vital Stim (Non-invasive therapy uses an electrical current to stimulate the muscles responsible for swallowing while trained specialists help patients re-educate the muscles with special exercises)
  • Wound care
What to Expect
While it varies from person-to-person, there are a few things a person can expect when they begin meeting with an occupational therapist. To begin, he or she will undergo an individualized evaluation which will help determine the goals of the patient. Depending on the needs of the individual, the occupational therapist may also perform an evaluation of the environments a person may regularly be in, like a home, school or workplace.

Throughout outpatient occupational therapy, there may be outcome evaluations to ensure that goals are being met, and if not, make updates or changes to the treatment plan.