Benefits, Outcomes and Drawbacks of Occupational Therapy

What are the Benefits of Occupational Therapy?

The main benefit of occupational therapy is the mastery of skills that help children develop, recover, or maintain daily living skills. The goal of an occupational therapist is to help individuals have independent, productive and satisfying lives.

There are concrete benefits to occupational therapy – those where it is easy to measure the progress, such as improving a child’s skills to achieve independence in feeding, bathing, dressing and other self-care activities. The less obvious benefits of occupational therapy may include:

  • Creating interventions to help a child appropriately respond to information coming through the senses. Intervention may include developmental activities, sensory integration or sensory processing, and play activities.
  • Facilitating play activities that instruct as well as aid a child in interacting and communicating with others.
  • Identifying, developing or adapting engagement in meaningful activities that enhance the child’s quality of life.
  • Reducing environmental barriers that limit a child’s participation in family, learning and community based activities.
  • Identifying needed assistive technology devices and supports.
  • Preparing the family and child for changes in roles and routines.
  • Educating the family and school staff on diverse needs of the child.
  • Enhancing social skills development and leisure activities in the school environment.
  • Assisting with school mobility, recommending adaptations, accommodations and equipment.

What is the Desired Outcome of Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapists target desired outcomes and determine the services, supports, and modifications or accommodations needed to achieve those outcomes. Through an understanding of the impact of disability, illness and impairment on the way a child develops, plays and learns new skills, occupational therapists improve a child’s ability to participate in daily life.

The desired outcome of the treatment is to help children learn to be as independent as possible. This can range from improving physical abilities so the child can participate in self-care to helping the child be prepared to perform school-related activities. Since each child is unique, the goals and outcomes of the therapy treatment plan will be specific to that child and his or her needs.

This means that the therapy is ongoing until the child attains the necessary skills. Once skills are mastered in one area, say self-care, the therapy will focus on other skills that are needed to be functional in the community. Again, the nature of the therapy depends on your child’s disability, how quickly he or she learns new skills and the goals of the family.

What are the Drawbacks of Occupational Therapy?

There are concerns of a practical nature which must be considered. These include the time commitment to the program, the availability of services, the impact of the therapy on other family members, and the cost involved in continued care.

In developing an occupational therapy program for your child, it is important to develop a set of realistic expectations with the therapist. These expectations must be revisited from time to time as the child progresses. Only through periodic evaluations of the overall therapy program will you be able to determine the impact it is having on your child’s, and your family’s, quality of life.

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