Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapy

  • What is occupational therapy?
  • Who is an occupational therapist?
  • Qualification
  • When does a child need occupational therapy?
  • How do they work?
  • Where do they work?

What is occupational therapy?

Occupational Therapy is the assessment and treatment of physical and psychiatric conditions using specific, purposeful activity to prevent disability and promote independent function in all aspects of daily life.

Who is an occupational therapist?

Occupational Therapist assesses the physical, psychological and social functions of the individual, identifies areas of dysfunction and involves the individual in a structured programme of activity to overcome disability.


There are recognized courses in the field of Occupational Therapy. There are many institutes in India offering Bachelors & Masters program in Occupational Therapy. The Bachelors program is of 4 years duration. Mostly the Masters program is of 2 years duration, few colleges offer a 3 year program. Only individuals who have completed the Bechelors or both these courses are eligible to be called as Occupational therapist.

When does a child need occupational therapy?

Occupational Therapists work with children who have difficulties with the practical and social skills necessary for their everyday life. An Occupational Therapist will aim to enable the child to be as physically, psychologically and socially independent as possible. Occupational Therapists work in close partnership with the child and their family, schools and other healthcare professionals. Together they have a shared responsibility for meeting the child's needs. In schools, for example, they evaluate the child's abilities, recommend and provide therapy, modify classroom equipment, and help the child participate as fully as possible in school programs and activities. A therapist may work with the child individually, lead small groups in the classroom, consult with a teacher to improve the functioning skills of the child etc.
Occupational therapy is provided when there is a disruption in function in one or more of the following the areas:
  • Gross Motor Skills : movement of the large muscles in the arms, and legs. Abilities like rolling, crawling, walking, running, jumping, hopping, skipping etc
  • Fine Motor Skills : movement and dexterity of the small muscles in the hands and fingers. Abilities like in-hand manipulation, reaching, carrying, shifting small objects etc.
  • Cognitive Perceptual Skills : Abilities like attention, concentration, memory, comprehending information, thinking, reasoning, problem solving, understanding concept of shape, size and colors etc.
  • Sensory Integration : ability to take in, sort out, and respond to the input received from the world. Sensory processing abilities like vestibular, proprioceptive, tactile, visual, auditory, gustatory and olfactory skills.
  • Visual Motor Skills : a child's movement based on the perception of visual information. Abilities like copying.
  • Motor Planning Skills : ability to plan, implement, and sequence motor tasks.
  • Oral Motor Skills : movement of muscles in the mouth, lips, tongue, and jaw, including sucking, biting, chewing, blowing and licking.
  • Play skills : to develop age appropriate, purposeful play skills.
  • Socio-emotional skills : ability to interact with peers and others.
  • Activities of daily living: Self-care skills like daily dressing, feeding, grooming and toilet tasks. Also environment manipulation like handling switches, door knobs, phones, TV remote etc.
  • Occupational therapists in schools collaborate with teachers, special educators, other school personnel, and parents to develop and implement individual or group programs, provide counseling, and support classroom activities.
  • Occupational therapists design and develop equipment or techniques for improving existing mode of functioning.

How do they work?

Occupational Therapists work with parents/care givers and others to assess if a child has difficulties with practical and social skills. Occupational Therapists assess the physical, psychological and social functions of the individual, identifies areas of dysfunction and involves the individual in a structured programme of activity to overcome disability. Following assessment, the Occupational Therapist will design and implement programs with appropriate strategies in order to enable the child to maximize his/her potential.
Occupational Therapists provide services to individuals often in conjunction with physicians, social workers, psychologists, and other therapists. Occupational therapists use qualitative and quantitative assessment methods, including standardized tests, as well as devices, to analyze and diagnose the nature and extent of dysfunction. Occupational therapists develop an individualized plan of care, tailored to each patient's needs.
A core value of pediatric occupational therapy is providing family-centered care and service. The needs, desires, and values of the child and family drive the direction of their assessments and intervention. The focus of occupational therapy intervention directly reflects the child's and/or family's priorities.
Recording a client's activities and progress is an important part of an occupational therapist's job. Accurate records are essential for evaluating client's progress and for reporting to physicians and other health care providers.

Where do they work?

  • Hospitals/Clinics : There are many hospitals/clinics in which these professionals are employed with in the pediatric department. The children will be directly referred to them by doctors for assessment and therapy.
  • Rehabilitation centre : There are many public/private rehabilitation centres.
  • Special schools : Therapists also work within the school settings.
  • Private practice : In India private practice is very common where many therapists work independently. They may be working part-time in any of the facilities mentioned above along with private practice also.
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