Occupational Therapy Week - Carrie explains all

This week is Occupational Therapy Week, helping raise awareness of what occupational therapy is and how it can help children and young people after brain injury.
Carrie and Millie
Carrie and Millie showing their support for Occupational Therapy Week 2016
In our latest blog Carrie an occupational therapist at The Children’s Trust school shares her insight into the world of occupational therapy.

Can you sum up occupational therapy in one sentence?

Occupational therapy is about everything which makes you, you."
Occupational therapy enables people to participate in their daily activities, so for children a lot of it surrounds accessing play opportunities whereas with adults it’s working more with work and hobbies.

In what ways can occupational therapy help a child following a brain injury?

Occupational therapy assesses the child’s skills in a range of areas including sensory, cognitive, physical and emotional and develops programmes to help them in these areas according to their age and stage of recovery after a brain injury.

What is occupational therapy week all about?

Occupational therapy week is promoting occupational therapy as a career, getting people to think about what attributes someone would need to be an occupational therapist. OT week is also about raising the profile of occupational therapy, a lot of people don’t know what occupational therapy is and unlike, for example, speech and language therapists, the name is quite ambiguous and people may not always know what we do.  Often people think we have something to do with jobs! The week also highlights the huge remit of occupational therapists and the huge range of areas which they can help with.

What do you hope occupational therapy week will achieve?

I hope the week will provide some more clarity about what occupational therapy is and in what ways we can support people to participate in their daily lives and achieve independence.  The primary occupation of children is play and we use play to encourage engagement and participation as well as cognitive, sensory physical and emotional skill acquisition and development. I also hope it will get people thinking about what it would be like if they weren’t able to do the things we take for granted each day, like the roles we have, our daily tasks or the hobbies we love.  Improving people’s wellbeing is a key part of occupational therapy and helping people with the things which make them happy is crucial and means we have huge scope in our role.
Carrie and Millie
Even people within the charity don’t always know what we do, so we are hoping this will make us more visible as a team so that people think about occupational therapy more.  It might be that a member of staff is talking to a child and finds out there is something that the child loved to do but can’t do anymore and that member of staff thinks of us.  We may be able to come in and help the child to access that activity again.

What is the most rewarding part of your job as an occupational therapist?

I love that I am making a difference to people, it might not always be making a difference to the child but sometimes helping a parent to learn new ways to help their child. Sometimes the small changes are the most exciting, for example, a child responding to a stimuli and being able to share these small changes with families. One of the most rewarding things I have done recently was working with some students who were visually impaired. We set up a completely dark room and carried out the same session for a number of weeks running.  The first week the students didn’t know what to expect but by week six the students were starting to anticipate the session and participate.  So by creating the right environment for the students we were giving them a chance to be more involved in the session.

Where do you feel occupational therapy is moving in the future?

I think the role of occupational therapists is being taken much more seriously by external bodies and the benefits we can bring are being considered in a vast range of settings and environments.
Carrie
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