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What is Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy is the branch of medical science that uses holistic approach to treat a child or adult with physical, sensory or cognitive difficulties with the objective of making him/her functionally independent in all walks of life. Occupational therapy, as the name implies, helps with the occupation or activities of daily living – particularly those activities that are most essential for everyday life. Developmental delays, disabilities, injury or illness make it difficult for kids and adults to perform self-care activities such as holding a toothbrush, taking a shower, buttoning a shirt etc. Occupational therapy focuses on the improvement and maintenance of skills required for everyday functioning with the sole aim of promoting health and better living in these patients.

 

 

Occupational Therapy Prayatna
Who can Benefit from Occupational Therapy?

At Prayatna, we have a team of qualified and licensed occupational therapists who work towards making the patient functionally independent at home, at work and in the community. They set goals and plan programs to suit the unique abilities and needs of the patient. They work individually and as a part of multi-disciplinary team involving clinical psychologists, speech therapists, physiotherapists and special educators. Knowledge and expertise of our team forms the backbone of our whole treatment process.

People of all age groups can benefit from occupational therapy. Our team of occupational therapists is trained and experienced in the following areas:

  • Paediatrics
  • Neurology
  • Orthopaedic s and
  • Mental health

To know more about the various conditions we attend at Prayatna, check here.

 

Our occupational therapists can also help with

  • Splints
  • Adaptive devices
  • Home modifications and
  • Physical rehabilitation
How we do Assessment & Treatment?

Occupational therapy assessment is a detailed evaluation of an individual’s activities of daily living(ADL), gross motor, fine motor, handwriting, cognitive, perceptual, visual motor, oral motor, sensory processing, social, emotional and functional behavioural skills. 

Our therapists use standardized and non-standardized assessment tools, clinical observations, parental/guardian interviews, discussion with other professionals involved with the patient and school teachers for a comprehensive and holistic assessment. 

Assessment gives a clear picture of the individual’s functional performance in everyday living, his/her strengths and the deficit areas which needs attention and treatment.  Assessment may last for 1-2 sessions. However, it may vary from case to case depending on the child’s condition, age, ability to follow instructions, attention span etc. In some cases, assessment may be ongoing due to various factors and therapy program is initiated after discussion with parents.

What happens after assessment?

After assessment, therapist will discuss assessment findings, diagnosis and treatment plan with the parent/guardian. Upon treatment confirmation, therapist devises personalized intervention program considering individual abilities, difficulties and needs of the patient. Goals and sub-goals are decided in discussion with parents/guardian or patients (in case of adolescents and adults). 

Regular therapy sessions are planned depending upon the skill requirements of the patient. Each therapy session lasts for 45 minutes. For those clients who stay far and need regular therapy, we arrange periodical physical sessions, home programs and online therapy programs taking into consideration current level of abilities and parental/guardian involvement. We have individual and group therapy programs in paediatrics. Group therapy programs are planned based on child’s tolerance level, needs and ability to follow instructions. 

Parents/guardians are involved in all therapy sessions and our therapists provide guidance and training on various strategies and techniques for continuing practice at home. Home program is an essential part of occupational therapy. It is essential to follow home programs as suggested by therapists to ensure desired results. Home programs may vary depending on the patient’s individual needs and abilities. These programs may address different skills to make sure regular practice for better well-being. 

Therapy programs are reviewed regularly and periodically. They are altered or modified depending on patient’s response, development and feedback from parents/guardian. Period of therapy may depend on the problem. Depending on patient’s progress, therapy schedules may be gradually weaned with periodical review sessions and finally stopped upon reaching the desired phase of development.

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy, as the name implies, helps with the occupation or activities of daily living – particularly those activities that are most essential for everyday life.

Benefits from Occupational Therapy

People of all age groups can benefit from occupational therapy. Our team of occupational therapists is trained and experienced in the following areas, Paediatrics, Neurology, Orthopaedics and Mental health.

Therapy for Autistic kids

At Prayatna, occupational therapists play a vital role in the autism treatment team that includes parents, behaviour therapists, speech therapists and special educators.

Occupational Therapy for Children with Developmental Delay

Primary occupation of a child is play. The first 5 years of a child’s life is crucial for development. It is through play that a child’s body learns and develops the basic skills termed as ‘developmental milestones’. When a child fails to reach the developmental milestones appropriate to his/her age, development is said to be ‘delayed’. (To know more about developmental milestones, check here) 

Occupational therapy is an essential part of early intervention support services at Prayatna that helps children (from 0-5 years) who have developmental delays, disabilities or at risk of developing them. Early intervention helps these children develop optimally.

When to seek help?

If a child shows problems or difficulties in any one or more of the following areas, it is imperative for the parent to seek help for clinical evaluation. 

  • Difficulties in sucking, biting, chewing and licking
  • Difficulty in daily dressing, feeding and toileting tasks
  • Difficulty in child’s movements based on the perception of visual information
  • Difficulties in the movement of small muscles in hands and fingers like manoeuvring tiny objects, balancing etc.
  • Difficulty in writing
  • Difficulty in the movement of large muscles in arms and legs
  • Disability or difficulty to take in, sort and respond to external stimuli
  • Difficulty to plan, implement and sequence tasks involving hands and legs
Treatment focus areas

At Prayatna, after initial screening, our occupational therapist experienced in paediatrics, assesses the child’s skills for playing, daily activities and performance at school as per our standardized assessment procedure. Therapist evaluates skills and compares the data with what is developmentally age appropriate. Understanding current abilities and skill requirements of the child, therapist sets goals and designs appropriate treatment program in discussion with parents. 

Our occupational therapist can help improve in your child –

  • Handwriting skills
  • Fine motor skills(activities involving small muscles in hands and fingers)
  • Gross motor skills(activities involving large muscles in arms and legs)
  • Planning and organisational skills
  • Self-care skills
  • Cognitive skills
  • Visual perceptual skills
  • Socio-emotional skills
  • Balance & coordination

(balance is the ability to maintain positions like standing, sitting etc. & coordination is the ability to smoothly perform a movement through space. For example, the ability to move hand forward and backward while standing) 

Our treatment program is regularly reviewed for progress and modified or changed depending upon child’s development. Our therapists insist upon participation of parent/caregiver during therapy sessions to give real time training and guidance for practice at home. Working on specific activities at home as guided by occupational therapist ensures progress and achievement of goals.

Occupational Therapy for Autism

Autism is a developmental disorder that affects an individual’s ability to communicate and interact with others. They also show repetitive behaviours and restricted interests. At Prayatna, occupational therapists play a vital role in the autism treatment team that includes parents, behaviour therapists, speech therapists and special educators. 

Assessment & Treatment

Our therapist assesses child’s attention span, play skills, ADL skills (activities of daily living), motor skills such as balance, ability to hold and manipulate smaller objects, need for personal space, aggression/withdrawal/tantrums, response to touch or other external stimuli and social interaction skills. They then set goals and sub goals in consultation with parent and other professionals attending on the child.  They develop individualized treatment plan to cater to the specific needs of the child. 

Therapeutic activities may include:

  • activities to improve coordination and promote awareness of the body, for example doing puzzles or stringing beads etc.
  • interactive play modules to enhance communication and social skills
  • activities to improve motor skills for balance and coordination
  • activities that helps the child to accept and adapt to transitions
  • self-care activities like grooming, brushing, toileting, feeding etc.
  • activities to improve visual skills for better reading and writing
  • improve sitting tolerance and posture
  • improve perceptual skills like telling the differences in colours, shapes, sizes etc.

Self-care and self-regulation are two key aspects in our autism treatment where occupational therapy plays a major role. Therapeutic activities help the child to express feelings in more appropriate ways and engage in play with siblings and peers.

Sensory Integration Therapy for Autism

Research has shown that 60-70% of kids with autism exhibit sensory processing disorder. Sensory overload/underload can manifest itself in different ways like challenging behaviour or withdrawal. Problems that sensory integration therapy can help treat include,

  • problem with body position in space
  • problem with balance
  • oversensitivity/undersensitivity to touch, taste, smell, sight or sound (for example, oversensitivity to some type of clothing; Some children find it difficult to filter out background noises).

Our occupational therapists experienced with sensory integration techniques can provide the right intervention to target each sensory system. This will help in regulating your child’s nervous system making him/her more calm and focused which ultimately helps in improving attention and performance. 

Objective of sensory integration therapy in autism is to improve the ability of child’s brain to process sensory inputs and help the child function better in his/her daily life. 

Our team of occupational therapists with expertise in sensory integration therapy indulges the child in various activities that may include,

  • deep massage
  • wearing weighted vest
  • being brushed
  • joint compressions
  • spinning on a scooter
  • swinging
  • jumping on trampoline
  • rolling on exercise ball etc.

Sensory integration activities help to regulate a child’s sensory system and these activities vary from child to child based on their needs and skills. Therapist prescribes a sensory diet/lifestyle that helps to organize or restructure the child’s nervous system over time. This will make him/her more tolerable and accepting to challenging sensations and situations. 

The purpose of occupational therapy in autism is to help the child improve his quality of life at home and school. Therapy plan is designed to introduce, maintain and enhance skills to make the child with autism as independent as possible.

Occupational Therapy for ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)

ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is a condition that is marked by a combination of behaviours that arise due to differences in the brain development and brain activity. Children with ADHD may be inattentive, hyperactive and/or impulsive. They may show signs in one, two or all the three categories. If unattended, this will lead to difficulties in learning, development and social relationships.

 

When to seek help?

It is quite normal for young children to be restless, distractible, impatient or impulsive – these do not always indicate that the child has ADHD. Children usually learn to develop skills as they grow. But unfortunately, some kids don’t get to develop the skills required to stay attentive, to wait, to control emotions, etc. When these behaviours continue and start creating problems at school and home, they need help. Some of the most common signs of ADHD are listed below. Should you have any concerns on your child’s behaviours or activities, do not hesitate to contact our team for a comprehensive clinical investigation.

 

Inattention: The child has trouble paying attention to anything they are not presently involved in – they easily ‘tune out’ or drift away

  • getting easily distracted
  • losing items easily eg. pencil, toys etc.
  • difficulty getting organized while leaving for some place
  • rushes activity resulting in mistakes
  • difficulty in following instructions
  • difficulty in remembering recent instructions or incidents
  • misses important details
  • may not complete the task they started

Hyperactivity: One of the most common symptoms which make the kid to be ‘on the go’ all the time.

  • restless and easily bored
  • difficulty to relax
  • struggle to remain seated in classroom or at dining table
  • talk excessively
  • fidgeting
  • highly energetic and always ‘on the go’

Impulsivity: Acts too fast before thinking which disrupts social relationships.

  • interrupts others
  • finds it hard to wait
  • difficulty in controlling emotions often leading to outbursts
  • act in ways that are risky or do things without seeking permission

 

Assessment & Treatment

Our team helps with diagnosis and identification of problem areas that need help and support. We understand that ADHD affects each individual differently and that it is important to devise a treatment plan to address different concerns and needs of each individual and his family. Our team of experienced occupational therapists are adept at working with children diagnosed with ADHD and they provide comprehensive and consultative approach with the intention of making them manage their daily life effectively. 

Treatment may include occupational therapy, behaviour therapy, sensory integration therapy(depending on child’s needs) and parent training. In some cases, consultation with the in-house psychiatrist may be recommended for more effective management of behavioural and emotional concerns. 

During therapy session, our therapists use different techniques, tools and strategies to help the child

  • improve sitting tolerance
  • improve attention – they teach techniques to stay focused
  • improve coordination by playing games with the child
  • improve handwriting skills
  • improve time management skills
  • improve social skills
  • improve organizational skills
  • give sleep training strategies for uninterrupted sleep
  • teach strategies to control hyperactivity and impulsivity
  • improve self-care skills
  • improve visual perceptual skills – this helps the child to process what they see and respond with meaningful coordinated movements
Sensory Integration Therapy for ADHD

Some kids with ADHD may have problem processing sight, sound, smell, touch and other senses. Some kids may find the label in their shirt or dress irritating. Some others may find the sound of fire engine/siren disturbing. This may be because the touch or sound may be overwhelming their senses. While some kids pull away from such senses, some crave for more. Those are the kids who like to spin and swing endlessly. 

Our occupational therapists use sensory integration therapy to help children with sensory processing disorder. Using different techniques, therapists help to reorganize the sensory system of the child. Some of the strategies are:

  • applying deep pressure such as massage
  • rhythmic movements like jumping on trampoline, swinging or rolling on exercise ball
  • different textures to touch
  • listening therapy for sound sensory issues

Above activities may vary from child to child and therapists take due care in choosing activities based on each child’s needs and abilities. 

Home programs are essential part of occupational therapy for children diagnosed with ADHD. Our therapists include parents during therapy sessions to help them gain hands-on experience and to continue therapy at home for effective results.

Occupational Therapy for Learning Disability and Learning Difficulties

Learning disability is a condition that affects how an individual receives and processes information. A person with learning disability may be as smart as everyone around but may have problems with reading, writing, doing math or understanding directions.

 

When to seek help?

Delays noticed in achieving developmental milestones may be an early sign of learning disability. When the problem gets attended early, the easier gets its management. Some common signs and symptoms that present itself as the child grows and attends school are listed below. Never delay to seek help when you notice them. Our team including clinical psychologists, occupational therapists, speech therapists and special educators can help address your concerns and improve overall performance of your child.

 

Common signs and symptoms include,

  • Poor reading ability
  • Memory difficulties like recalling what was learnt recently at school or home
  • Difficulty in organizing themselves or their work
  • Falling behind in lessons
  • Unable to produce legible, neat work
  • Difficulty in copying from board or problems in losing the place while reading or copying

 

How can an Occupational Therapist Help?

When a child is diagnosed with learning disability or if your child is experiencing difficulties or facing challenges with his/her academics, occupational therapist can provide valuable support. An exhaustive assessment of the child’s different skills by therapist helps in uncovering deficit areas.

 

Different challenges the children face in academics may be due to underlying difficulties in paying attention, motor problems or visual perceptual deficits. Some children with learning disability may find it difficult to organize themselves and/or sequence the actions required for finishing their daily tasks. Using different techniques and multisensory tools, our occupational therapists aim at improving child’s performance by focusing on the problem areas that need attention and support. 

Occupational therapists help break down information into different steps making it easier for the child to follow. They also assist in establishing an effective routine which allows the child to anticipate what to expect next – this supports optimistic transitions between activities which positively influences child’s confidence and performance. 

Our therapists help with

  • breaking tasks and making it easier for the child to follow
  • memory aids and mental preparation
  • timing techniques
  • pencil or pen grip for better handwriting skills
  • better sitting posture
  • correct letter formation
  • pre-writing and copying skills
  • organizing tasks
  • improving fine motor skills and hand dexterity

Our occupational therapists work with the child, parent and teachers. They provide treatment, specific tools, advice, strategies and techniques to lessen the effects of learning disability/difficulty. Different activities help improve child’s self-esteem and confidence at school and home. Here again, home programs are essential part of occupational therapy. Practising makes the goals achievable and maintainable. Goals and programs are regularly reviewed and adapted by our therapists to ensure success.

Sensory Integration Therapy

What is sensory integration therapy?

Sensory integration therapy is a fun & play based intervention which helps in dealing with sensory problems.

 

In sensory integration therapy, kids with sensory issues are exposed to sensory stimulation in a structured and repetitive way to help regulate their emotions. Sensory integration therapy is performed by specially trained occupational therapists.

 

What is sensory processing disorder or dysfunction?

There are different senses in our body which act individually and also in association with other senses giving us information about the environment and our body. We take in messages from our body and the surroundings through these senses and respond accordingly. This happens all the time and automatically as brain processes information without our conscious effort.

 

For example, imagine yourself stepping into a bus. As you place your feet on the first step, the bus starts moving.  Automatically you adjust your body to keep yourself balanced; and you slowly step ahead and find a place to sit. This is SENSORY INTEGRATION. Sensory integration (SI) is the process of receiving, organizing, and interpreting the sensory input, which becomes the basis for motor planning, learning and behaviour.

 

In some people, brain has difficulty processing and responding to information from senses and this is termed as sensory processing disorder. Specific sounds, textures, tastes or smells can make them feel overwhelmed and they try to avoid the unbearable sensation they feel. Some children may need more sensory input which makes them touch or do things repeatedly and feel the physical contact and pressure.

 

Treatment

Occupational therapists trained in sensory integration therapy help to cope with your child’s sensory processing issues. Therapist creates a sensory diet which is nothing but a customized plan of sensory activities. Sensory diet helps to calm and regulate individual’s emotions. This allows focusing, learning and behaving to the best of his/her ability much easier.

 

Sensory activities may vary from child to child and are chosen with care based on each individual child’s skills and needs. Sensory diet can help your child perform and behave well at school and home without struggle or stress. 

How does it help?

Sensory diet helps to restructure or train the child’s brain so that he/she is able to:

  • tolerate situations and sensations that are challenging and distressing
  • increase attention span
  • lower stress and anxiety

Sensory diet feeds them with the necessary input required to promote self-regulation and handle daily activities of life better. If unattended, sensory issues may lead to poor self-regulation of physical activity, poor attention and emotions which result in anxiety and low self-esteem in these children. 

Occupational therapy helps children and adults in their everyday activities for independent functioning and improved performance at school, work and home. It helps to boost their self-esteem and sense of achievement. Occupational therapists provide expert advice on the most effective and most appropriate adaptive equipments and home modifications necessary for the individual. They see the individual as a whole and provide holistic approach and this is the main advantage of occupational therapy.  

At Prayatna, we have a team of qualified, trained and committed occupational therapists who work towards improving functional abilities of an individual for better life experience. To the adult who is recovering, to the child who needs developmental skills, to the parent or caregiver who needs support and guidance, our therapists are here to listen and understand everyone’s needs and share their expert knowledge and technical advice in a professional and friendly manner. Contact us for an appointment or to know more about our therapies and treatment.

Occupational Therapy & Physical Therapy - Differences

Although both types of therapy help children and adults improve their quality of life, they are different in their approach and focus. Wherever required they work together complementing each other. While improvement in the quality of movement is focused in physiotherapy, occupational therapy takes care of the functional aspect of movement gained. 

Differences

  • While physical therapy focuses on the area of impairment, occupational therapy is a holistic program treating the person as a whole.
  • While occupational therapy focuses on improving the quality and ability of a patient to do everyday functional activities independently, physical therapy aims at enhancing the patient’s quality and ability to perform specific movements of their body.
  • While occupational therapists focus more on fine motor skills involving movements of the small muscles of the body, physiotherapists work more on gross motor skills which involve large muscles of the body.

Many factors can influence a child or adult’s ability to perform daily tasks in life and it is essential to have a comprehensive approach wherever required. Different perspectives, different techniques and unified teamwork can help the child or adult gain the necessary skills for performing everyday activities to the best of their capability.

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