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What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapy is a health profession that uses activities (occupations) with specific goals to help people of all ages to participate in activities of everyday living. Activities of everyday living include and are not limited to self-care, leisure, school and work.  It is believed that participation in meaningful activities and roles essential to the individual helps to maintain or enhance our health and wellbeing.

Occupational therapists work with people with a range of conditions, including those who have physical disabilities, mental or social difficulties either from birth or as the result of accident, illness or ageing. Occupational therapists will consider the importance of how a person's physical, mental and social needs will impact on their recovery process and help them to achieve the goals that are most important to them.

Their work involves:

  • Enhancing physical and psychological functions
  • Preventing illnesses
  • Facilitating independent living
  • Improving quality of life of people with disabilities or special needs
  • Promoting reintegration to home, work and society

To achieve these outcomes, occupational therapists will work with a person to design a treatment programme based on the individual's unique lifestyle and preferences. Therapy usually involves carefully designed activities and processes or sometimes, even includes modifications to the environmental surroundings of the person.

Occupational therapy services may include:

  • Consultations
  • Customized interventions (skills-based or activity-focused)
  • Home and workplace evaluations
  • Prescription of environment adaptations and assistive devices
  • Family/Caregiver education and training

For example, Albert sustains a hip fracture after a fall and had to undergo a hip replacement surgery. After being referred to an occupational therapist, these are the services he may receive:

  • Learn movement techniques for getting out of bed, dressing himself, and using the toilet to protect his fractured hip
  • Home safety evaluation and advice to minimise fall risk and promote safe activity participation
  • Advice on methods to maintain engagement in his leisure and social activities, to move around in the community for his continued quality of life
  • Recommendations of assistive device e.g. Raised toilet seat; Long-handled reacher usage to enhance participation in the above activities mentioned
  • Family/caregiver training on methods to assist Albert’s participation

Care to Go Beyond: Occupational Therapists in Singapore

Life Goals & Occupational Therapy

Find out more information on the World Federation of Occupational Therapy and its statement on Occupational Therapy by clicking here.

SAOT Public Education Videos