Occupational therapy: type and use in psychology

A grandfather with dementia or neurodegenerative disease, an adult drug addict or a child with a profound intellectual disability. In many of these cases, it will be necessary to teach these people to practice various attitudes and skills necessary for the good functioning of the person or allowing to maintain these skills for as long as possible.

One of the ways to accomplish this learning is the use of occupational therapy, A health field that has its own university degree in many Spanish speaking countries. In this article, we are going to learn how it works and what methods it uses.

    The concept of occupational therapy

    Occupational therapy is a set of therapeutic techniques, methods and treatments that, through a series of activities or professions, stimulates the person being treated so that they can develop the basic skills necessary for their daily life., Prevent illness or disability, regain or maintain faculties, learn new ways of acting and / or adapt to their situation. The objective is to bring the patient to considerably improve his quality of life and strengthen their autonomy.

    The different activities to be carried out can work both physically and mentally: fine motor skills, memory, cognition or executive functions are generally the most elaborate elements in occupational therapy. Occupational therapy is generally used for rehabilitation purposes, but it can also be dedicated to the learning of pleasure or to the creation of a series of skills allowing the achievement of a future profession.

    The activities to be carried out can be very varied, depending on the type of problems you are working with and the goal to be achieved. The ways of applying these activities can also vary widely: physical games, mental exercises, dancing or music therapy can be applied, for example. In any case, we try which directly refer to the day’s activities on the patient’s day and that they are interesting and meaningful to him.

    Other needs and uses of this type of therapy

    They must be designed in such a way as to be able to assess the state of the subject, its performance and its development, and also take into account the priorities and needs of the subject in question.

    Frequent tasks include mental exercises that require you to remember, plan and organize, as well as perform basic personal care and allow the learning of motor and behavioral skills essential for maintaining well-being. It is not mere entertainment or something to pass the time: all the activities that are carried out (although if what is intended is that the subject learns to enjoy his leisure time) are aimed at stimulating the patient and helping him to face his difficulties, having therapeutic advice.

    It is common for this type of therapy to be performed in a group format, Bring together several subjects with the same problem or with similar profiles who need to work on the same domain or basic activity in the same session. However, it can also be used individually when the goal is to teach a skill.

      Types of patients who need it

      There are a large number of people who may require the use of occupational therapy, having mentioned several typical cases in the introduction of this article.

      So occupational therapy it is well known and applied to the world of geriatrics, In the elderly and elderly. This is due to the functional limitations that make the body age. And it is particularly common in patients with neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia, in which it is expected to maintain and maximize the subject’s autonomic functioning.

      Another group that we have already mentioned concerns the population with an intellectual disability, which in some cases (especially when the disability is moderate, severe or profound) may require stimulation and learning of basic activities through this format of therapy. The same goes for other neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism.

      Finally, all people who have suffered from some type of disease (congenital or acquired) or disabling disorder will benefit greatly from this type of therapy. Examples of this can be found in people with cerebral palsy. Also in patients with cancer, sensory deficits or impairments, substance dependence or psychological disorders.

        Benefits of this intervention

        The practice of occupational therapy is of great benefit in maintaining mental health and prolonging basic functionality in patients with various diseases. In subjects with progressive degeneration of function, it can prolong normal functioning and slow down the degeneration process.

        Both in these cases and in those where there is no loss of functions, allows physical, mental and sensory stimulation, empowerment of skills and sometimes learn essential skills and activities. It also allows the patient to maintain and sometimes see increased self-esteem and independence. They can also lead to social and professional inclusion by developing behaviors that allow their achievement.

        Finally, observing other patients in similar situations allows both socialization and the subject not to feel different, being able to in addition to expressing their emotions and doubts in front of people in conditions parallel to his.

        However, it is important to keep one thing in mind: occupational therapy it is not a curative treatment, but an accompaniment and a means of alleviating the handicap that various conditions can cause.

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