What is Occupational Therapy?

what is occupational therapy?

Occupational therapists use a whole person approach to work with individuals, groups and communities with health issues, injuries or disability to achieve optimal health and wellbeing through participation in meaningful occupations. These qualified allied health professionals assess an individual’s capabilities and difficulties, and work collaboratively towards finding strategies that can increase the person’s independence, productivity and quality of life using an evidence based, patient-focused approach. 

The term occupation relates to all activities of daily living that a person finds meaningful to occupy their days. These activities include self-care, household tasks, involvement in social and leisure activities in the community, working, going to school, and using public transport. Occupational therapy focuses on using a person’s goals and motivations and offering a variety of intervention strategies to make activities of daily living easier. This includes building knowledge and skills, finding new ways to complete activities, changing the environment or adding equipment to meet the person’s needs.

This week is Occupational Therapy Week, so we want to delve into the various types of treatment options, goals, and outcomes that can be involved when receiving occupational therapy.

Who is Occupational Therapy for?

Occupational therapy is suitable for any person whose health or disability affects how they participate in meaningful activities of daily living. Therapy is individualised to address the goals and needs of each person of any physical, mental, and psychosocial conditions or injuries, and can assist in recovery and development.

Examples of conditions and injuries that occupational therapy can assist with include:

  • Orthopaedic injuries including dislocations, fractures, breaks, sprains and overuse injuries
  • Musculoskeletal injuries including carpal tunnel syndrome, rotator cuff injuries, muscle strains, lower back pain and tendonitis
  • Neurological conditions including Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and motor neurone disease, acquired brain injury including stroke, brain aneruysm, anterioventricular malformation, traumatic brain injuries, neurodevelopmental delays and learning difficulties including autism and asperges syndrome and amputation.
  • Chronic pain and illness.
  • Cerebral palsy.
  • Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Cancer.
  • Spinal cord injuries.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis.

Occupational therapy can play a significant part in rehabilitation and recovery, especially as part of a holistic therapy regime.

If you are unsure if occupational therapy could be worthwhile for you, contact us to discuss or have a chat with your doctor, nurse, or allied health team.


What is involved in Occupational Therapy?


Our occupational therapists will undertake a range of assessments to determine your current functional abilities and difficulties to determine your specific level of need.  This will focus on fine and gross motor skills, visual-perceptual skills, sensory integration, executive functioning and self-care skills. We encourage you to be invested and actively take part in this stage of the process, and this can include feedback and contributions from other people who are important in your life if you wish.

Develop a treatment plan

We will then develop personalised short-term and long-term plans that provide clear goals and strategies to reach them. These are in keeping with your lifestyle, capabilities, and requirements.


Your plan will contain the best evidence-based strategies to assist you to achieve your goals. Each person’s plan is unique and individualised based on your diagnosis and circumstances. Interventions can include:

  • Repetitive functional task retraining
  • Provision of equipment to increase independence in tasks (E.g providing a chair in the shower to complete showering in sitting rather than standing, providing long handled dressing aids or adaptive cutlery).
  • A potential home visit with your occupational therapist to ensure your home environment suits your needs following injury or condition
  • Minor and major home modifications to allow for easier access to different areas of the house and to increase independence in tasks (E.g installation of a ramp to access the front of the house, removal of a bath to crease a walk in shower, installation of grabrails or stair lift)
  • Recommending modifications and adaptation to cars
  • Training and education of family members and friends to assist with care specific to your requirements
  • Community access retraining with focus on road safety, topographical orientation, public transport use, grocery shopping and car travel.
  • Activities to improve hand-eye coordination through a variety of suitable activities and exercises.


The process of recovery and rehabilitation is everchanging and evolving. Subsequently, we regularly check in with yourself, your family and carers and assess your progress. It is important to incorporate the inevitable changes to your lifestyle, environment, goals, and abilities.

What are the benefits of Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapy can help significantly in recovery and rehabilitation. Benefits that you may gain, depending on your circumstances, can include:

  • Increasing independence in self-care, domestic and community tasks with or without the use of new equipment or home modifications
  • Increased understanding of your condition and how to remain safely at home
  • Improved mobility, hand-eye coordination, and physical functionality.
  • Increased strength, movement and sensation in an impaired limb
  • Improved cognition including memory, attention and executive functioning
  • Returning to your workplace or school.
  • Increased ability to control your emotions.
  • Access to adaptive and supportive resources, equipment, and tools.
  • Reduced risk of injuries.
  • Improved quality of life.

Integrate Occupational Therapy into your rehabilitation

Developing and undertaking a program with our occupational therapists is a personalised experience that focuses on your specific requirements to help you get back to the things you love to do. There are so many positive reasons to take part in this form of therapy.

Our occupational therapy program requires a referral from your specialist or general practitioner. This can be completed online or sent via fax on 02 9564 3064. You may undertake this form of therapy separately or in combination with our other multidisciplinary therapy choices.

Contact us to discuss your options and to organise your initial consultation.

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