Occupational Therapy: What is it and who needs it? - PIH Health - Whittier, CA

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Healthy Living Online

Published on April 30, 2015

Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapy: What is it and who needs it?

Occupational TherapyOur lives are made up of thousands of everyday activities that keep us occupied. From toddlers (playing and learning) to professionals (using tools and providing services) to older adults (engaging in social activities and managing their homes), we usually don’t think much about the physical skills necessary to perform those activities until we start having trouble with them.

Occupational therapy is the use of assessments and treatments designed to develop, recover or maintain daily living and work skills of people with physical, developmental, social or emotional challenges. Occupational therapists focus on identifying and treating these challenges and eliminating or modifying environmental barriers so patients can lead independent and productive lives1.  The emphasis is on helping patients reach their goals. Occupational therapists often work closely with physical and speech therapists, nurses, social workers and the community for a holistic approach.  
According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, occupational therapists treat patients with an emphasis on activities of daily living (ADL’s) such as bathing, dressing, eating, functional mobility, personal hygiene, driving, financial management, care of others, child rearing, communication management, and health maintenance. Occupational therapists also help patients to meet functional goals related to school, work and leisure activities2.

People may need occupational therapy if they:

  • Are born with certain disabilities   
  • Get diagnosed with a new health condition
  • Have an accident or an injury
  • Experience decline in function as they age


If someone you know could use the help of an occupational therapist, to help them live life to the fullest no matter the health condition, disability or risk factors, ask their primary care physician for guidance or contact one of the PIH Health occupational therapists.

PIH Health Hospital - Whittier Rehabilitation Center  
562.789.5451
PIH Health Hospital - Downey Rehabilitation and Wellness Center
562.904.5414

1. American Occupational Therapy Association, aota.org

2. "Occupational Therapy Practice Framework: Domain and Process (3rd Edition)". American Journal of Occupational Therapy 68 (Suppl. 1): S1–S48. March–April 2014. doi:10.5014/ajot.2014.682006

The information in Healthy Living Online is for educational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.  The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation, or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.

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