Occupational Therapy

How Occupational Therapy Supports Those with Disability

How Occupational Therapy Supports Those with Disability

Occupational therapy is often a misunderstood and undervalued aspect of healthcare, but it is actually far more important than people often realise. While physiotherapy looks to treat major motor function—for example, to rehabilitate and strengthen a joint after surgery, or treat chronic back pain—occupational therapy focuses on the fine motor skills that enable a person to complete everyday tasks. It is a form of healthcare that has less to do with the structural and medical concerns that are addressed in other forms of therapy, and instead focuses on improving a person’s lifestyle functionality and independence.

What Are the Benefits of Occupational Therapy in Disability?

A qualified Occupational Therapist provides patients with practical techniques to help maintain or improve independence at home, work and in social settings. It is about making sure patients are equipped with the skills to circumvent risks, and to help them enjoy independent and fulfilling day-to-day life.

It is also a very active form of therapy, in that it encourages patients to take control of their treatment by determining what aspects should take priority over others. This leaves the patient with a sense of empowerment, rather than feeling like they are at the whim of prescribed medical treatment.

Perhaps one of the greatest benefits to occupational therapy is that it can help a patient avoid hospital admission or residential care. By equipping a patient with the ability to live independently, care facilities can be avoided, allowing the patient to be in control of daily living and social activities.

Key Aspects of Occupational Therapy

Key Aspects of Occupational Therapy

Due to each patient’s unique circumstances, an occupational therapy treatment plan will always be tailored specifically for the individual. Treatment plans are determined by the desired outcomes of the patient, and which areas of life he or she wishes to focus on. For some, it may be greater independence at home, for others it may be geared towards being able to maintain employment.

Occupational therapists offer a wide range of strategies and equipment to specifically address each patient’s needs. Some of which are listed below:

  • Motor skills development to assist with tasks such as feeding, brushing teeth, dressing, tying shoelaces etc.
  • Hand-eye coordination treatment to help a patient improve their ability to work, play sport and engage in other leisure activities
  • Develop techniques to allow a patient to safely get behind the wheel of a car
  • Self-regulation and emotional management techniques for people with mental disabilities such as autism spectrum disorder
  • Memory aids for those suffering memory loss
  • Pain and fatigue management
  • Provide consultation for Assistive Technology and home modifications such as bath rails, wheelchairs, kitchen aids etc.

Occupational therapists can also consult with a patient’s workplace or school if applicable. This can help to prepare a suitable environment to facilitate a smooth transition back to work or study after a period of absence due to injury.

Would I benefit From Occupational Therapy?

Patients of all ages and with all kinds of mental and physical disability can benefit from occupational therapy services. Outcomes may vary depending on the patient’s individual needs, but in any case, some level of support will always be of benefit. Patients who benefit from occupational therapy may suffer from the following conditions:

  • Broken bones or orthopaedic injuries
  • Burns
  • Developmental delays or learning disability
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Chronic pain
  • Chronic illness
  • Birth defects
  • Autism or sensory processing disorders
  • Amputations
  • Cancer
  • Arthritis
  • Brain injury
  • Mental health or behavioural problems
  • Memory disorders such as Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia
  • Spina Bifida
  • Fatigue

How to Access Occupational Therapy Through NDIS Support

The best way to make use of occupational therapy services is through an NDIS support coordinator who can be accessed as part of your NDIS support plan.

What is support coordination?

What is support coordination

A specialist carries out this job to organise and set you up with your required support services. They also assist you with your ongoing support plan, making sure you understand the ins and outs every step of the way. It is a type of support within your plan and is allocated to NDIS participants on a needs basis – which means not everyone will have funding for support coordination. A support coordinator focuses on three areas:

    • Coordination and capacity building
    • Support connection
    • Specialist support coordination

To read more about the role of a support coordinator, check out our previous blog here.

Support coordinators often work in conjunction with NDIS plan managers, however it is possible for you to engage a NDIS plan manager without having a support coordinator. Your support coordinator will focus on organising the supports that you require, while your NDIS plan manager handles the complex financial aspects of your NDIS funding. This will ensure that the occupational therapy support service fits in with the budget of the NDIS plan and is always paid for on time. This takes all the guesswork out of it, giving you peace of mind knowing that everything is taken care of.

If occupational therapy is already included on your NDIS plan, reach out to Onboard Supports for any advice regarding NDIS plan management. We take care of managing the financial side while you can focus on the most important thing – getting the most out of utilising your support services. At Onboard Supports, we are here for you. Get in contact today to learn more about how we can help.