Occupational health therapist

An occupational health therapist (OT) is a healthcare professional who helps people who have difficulties carrying out day-to-day activities because of a disability, illness, trauma, ageing, and a range of long-term conditions.
OTs work with people of all ages, from babies to older adults. They can help people with a wide range of conditions, including:

  • Physical disabilities, such as spinal cord injuries, stroke, and cerebral palsy
  • Learning disabilities, such as autism and dyslexia
  • Mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety
  • Long-term conditions, such as arthritis, diabetes, and multiple sclerosis

OTs can help people to:

  • Live independently at home and in the community
  • Manage their condition and symptoms
  • Participate in work and education
  • Enjoy leisure activities and hobbies

OTs use a variety of approaches to help people, including:

  • Assessment: OTs will assess a person’s needs and strengths to identify the areas where they need help.
  • Intervention: OTs will develop a plan of intervention to help people achieve their goals. This may involve teaching people new skills, providing adaptive equipment, or modifying the environment.
  • Education: OTs can educate people about their condition and how to manage it. They can also provide advice and support to families and caregivers.

Case study example:

A man named John had a stroke, which left him with hemiplegia, meaning that he was unable to use the right side of his body. John was referred to an OT who helped him to regain some of his mobility and to learn how to live with his disability.
The OT worked with John to develop a plan of intervention, which included the following:

  • Physiotherapy exercises to help John regain his strength and range of motion
  • Occupational therapy exercises to help John learn how to perform everyday activities, such as dressing and washing
  • Provision of adaptive equipment, such as a grabber and a wheelchair
  • Modification of John’s home environment to make it safer and more accessible

As a result of the OT’s intervention, John was able to return to his home and live independently. He was also able to resume some of his hobbies, such as gardening and playing chess.

Speak to an Occupational Health professional today.

Article fact-checked and approved by Dr. Amun Kalia and Dr Deryk Waller