What is OT?

  • Published OnNovember 20, 2021


Wrong guess.
I take the liberty of negating your ‘guess’ already(an inside OT joke).

We do not help people find jobs or help them with employment(most people’s guess about OT).

The “occupation” in occupational therapy simply refers to whatever “occupies” someone’s time (the old school idea of occupation).

Occupational Therapy(OT) is a unique, client-centred health profession which takes a holistic approach to address and identify the needs of the individual focusing on long term health and well-being.

OTs address a patients’ clinical conditions, recommending interventions, technology and equipment to continue participating in age-appropriate and meaningful day-to-day occupations, thus improving their quality of life.
OT interventions focus on remediation of the biological component, adapting the environment, modifying the task, teaching skills and strategies, and educating the individual/family in order to increase participation in the performance of daily activities, particularly those that are meaningful to the patient.



Helping the individual perform appropriate and meaningful occupations is how we bring a substantial difference in their lives.

In adults, this might mean being able to dress themselves or meal preparation after a stroke or moving around the community independently.

In children, this might mean writing and reading, playing with friends and learning new things.

In OT language, these are called “Activities of Daily Living” or “ADLs”.
ADLs can be affected following an injury, impairment, disability, or illness, and OT professionals help patients develop the skills to participate in these activities independently.



Here is the complete list of the activities an OT can help with:
Bathing and Showering | Toileting and Toilet Hygiene | Dressing | Eating and Swallowing | Feeding | Functional Mobility | Personal Device Care | Personal Hygiene and Grooming | Sexual Activity | Care of Others | Care of Pets | Child Rearing | Communication Management | Driving and Community Mobility | Financial Management | Health Management and Maintenance | Home Establishment and Maintenance | Meal Preparation and Clean Up | Religious and Spiritual Activities and Expressions | Safety Procedures and Emergency Responses | Shopping | Rest and Sleep | Education | Work | Play | Leisure | Social Participation



OTs recognize the need of a PERSON FOCUSED care pathway. We work to understand what matters the most to each individual i.e. being able to participate in daily life activities and return to the life they want to live.

It begins with a very thorough evaluation of the patient, where the occupational therapist collects information on a patient’s health history, occupational profile and functional activities that are currently limited.

Occupational therapists utilise their knowledge of a spectrum of diagnosis and choose standard assessments accordingly to create individualised intervention processes.
The intervention process includes specific goals- short term and long term- and the treatment techniques to be implemented to help a patient achieve those goals.





A child’s occupation is to learn, play and thrive.
Participation may be affected due to a variety of health conditions and we support children by identifying their unique strengths and utilise it to sail them through the challenges they face.

Some of the common diagnosis we see in childhood include:

  1. Autism Spectrum Disorders
  2. Motor Disorders
  3. Cerebral Palsy
  4. Developmental Delay
  5. Intellectual Disabilities
  6. Genetic disorders
  7. Rare Diseases



A holistic plan of care combines physical, sensory, emotional and/or cognitive interventions to help a client achieve their goals.
Environmental modifications are also considered in the plan of care.

Some examples of treatment include:

  1. ADL Training
  2. Assistive Technology Assessments
  3. Brief Emotional/Behavioral Assessments
  4. Community/Work Reintegration Training
  5. Debridement of Wounds
  6. Development of Cognitive Skills
  7. Development Screening
  8. Manual Therapy Techniques
  9. Neuromuscular Re-Education
  10. Self-Care/Home Management Training
  11. Sensory Integrative Techniques
  12. Therapeutic Activities
  13. Wheelchair Management




In South Asian countries, you have to go through high school and get an undergraduate(bachelors) degree in occupational therapy. Post graduate degree is called Masters in Occupational Therapy.
Once you get through OT school, you’ll need to get registered in the respective national medical council to practice.
In western countries, you have to get through high school and college and then choose a graduate program in Occupational Therapy.
Interested candidates go for further Post Doctoral courses.



The scope of Occupational Therapy is very broad. One can pursue a number of specialisations and advanced certification in specific areas of interest. Common areas of specializations include:

  1. Pediatrics
  2. Developmental Disabilities
  3. Hand Rehabilitation
  4. Neurology
  5. Geriatrics
  6. Sensory Integration
  7. Orthopaedics
  8. Ergonomics
  9. Assistive Technology
  10. Low Vision Therapy
  11. Stroke Rehabilitation
  12. Hippotherapy
  13. Mental Health
  14. Productive Aging


Occupational therapists generally practice in:

  • Government organizations / institutions / hospitals / projects
  • Non- government organizations
  • Private sectors like:
    • Acute care hospitals & nursing homes
    • Rehabilitation centers and clinics / centers (like developmental therapy clinics, neuro-rehabilitation facilities, de addiction centers etc.)
    • Special and mainstream schools
    • Chronic care facilities
    • Social agencies/Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) & Disaster Management Projects
    • Hospice care facilities
    • Mental Health Setups /Institutions and Hospitals
    • Industries
    • Self employed



I hope this helped you gain a little insight into the fabulous world of occupational therapy.
It is a profession as unique as each one of us and we approach healthcare with compassion in our heart and science in our mind. Backed by research, occupational therapy is gaining momentum as one of the most valued healthcare professions.