Patient Education

Occupational Therapy

What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapy is a discipline that aims to promote health by enabling people to perform meaningful and purposeful activities. Occupational therapists work with individuals who suffer from a mentally, physically, developmentally, and/or emotionally disabling conditions by utilizing treatments that develop, recover, or maintain clients' activities of daily living. The therapist helps clients not only to improve their basic motor functions and reasoning abilities, but also to compensate for permanent loss of function. The ultimate goal of occupational therapy is to help clients have independent, productive, and satisfying lives. Furthermore, occupational therapists are becoming increasingly involved in addressing the impact of social, political and environmental factors that contribute to exclusion and occupational deprivation.

What to expect?

Occupational therapists work in hospitals, schools, long-term care facilities, mental health facilities, rehab clinics, community agencies, private homes, public or private health care offices and employment evaluation and training centers. The referral for occupational therapy can be self generated or generated by funding agencies.

Conditions Treated

  • Arthritis
  • Stroke
  • Fractures
  • Multiple trauma
  • Rheumatic disease
  • Cancer
  • Brain injury
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Failure to thrive
  • Heart disease
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Heart and liver transplantation
  • Tissue Diseases
  • Joint replacement
  • Burns and amputation
  • Work injuries
  • Pediatric developmental delay

Techniques Used

Therapeutic Activities
These are purposeful activities including arts, crafts, recreation, sports, leisure, self–care, home management and work activities.

Activities of daily living

These are tasks of self–maintenance, mobility, communication and home management.

Self–care includes dressing, feeding, toileting, bathing and grooming activities.

Mobility includes movement in bed, wheelchairs, public and private transportation.

Assisting devices are frequently used.

Communication includes the ability to write, read, use telephones, and computers.

An orthosis is a device added to a person’s body to support a position, immobilize a part, correct deformities, assist weak muscles and restore function.


Occupational therapy is useful in developing functional use, tolerance and training of prosthetic devices. Psychological adjustment is also addressed.

Wheelchairs, Walkers, Canes, Seating Aids, Scooters
An occupational therapist measures the client for a mobility devices and seating

Biofeedback as adjunct therapy
Biofeedback is a therapeutic technique that attempts to produce in a client the ability to control certain physiological processes by using instrumentation. The client assumes the responsibility and becomes an active participant in his/her own improvement.

Movement Therapy
The Brunstrom approach to the treatment of hemiplegia is based on the use of motor patterns available to the patient in the recovery process.

Neuro–developmental treatment – Bobath approach
The primary goal of neuro–developmental treatment is to re–learn normal movements.

The Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) approach
Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation has been described as a method of promoting or hastening the response of the neuromuscular mechanism through stimulation of proprioceptors to treat neurological disorders.

Relevant Links

College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario

Ontario Society of Occupational Therapists

Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists