Metrolife: Therapy to learn, work better

Metrolife: Therapy to learn, work better

Occupational therapy enhances cognitive and reasoning ability.

Occupational therapists help people improve their ability to perform their daily tasks efficiently, both personally and professionally. The experts work with people of all ages.

But occupational therapy is not just about helping one improve basic cognitive and reasoning ability, but also to compensate for permanent loss of occupation.

Dr Angela David, developmental paediatrician at New Beginnings Early Intervention Centre for Children, says, “Parents come to us with children who don’t grow age appropriately. It could be anything from them not sitting up when they are six months old to learning to stand a few months later than usual. When a case is brought to us, doctors have to analyse the problem holistically; occupational therapy is just one aspect that helps with the child’s development.”

She says that it is important to look at all the other skills like speech and cognitive ability to ensure that there will not be any other delays in the growth of the child.

Daily activities like chewing and swallowing food, the capability of self-feeding, being able to drink from a cup without spilling and so on are activities that an occupational therapist looks into when it comes to a child. In the case of adults, it could be to help them get back on their feet after an accident.

Dr Supriti Koirala, occupational therapist, shares, “I once helped a 40-year-old get back to his daily activities after he suffered a stroke. He was someone who worked out at the gym regularly but after the stroke, he was bedridden. A month after the therapy, he was able to get back to routine activities like dressing himself with the help of an assisted device.”

Depending on the mindset of the person, the type of disability they have can be improved or even completely cured.

Many working professionals also seek the help of an occupational therapist. Dr Supriti says, “I’m not sure if this is done in India but companies in the US hire occupational therapists to educate employees about the ergonomics of sitting and working for long hours. They will teach them to sit at a 90-90-90 angle, take a break in between and go for a walk. This is important to not strain your back and cause damage in the future.”

How are the patients analysed?
For children, there will be an extensive interview with the parents where the therapist will understand the problems they are facing and the skills that the patient already has. There will also be a standardised assessment that will look into the daily functional activities and a sensory profiling. Other therapists will also be looped into the screening process. Once the problem is analysed, a goal will be set and the professional will work towards achieving that in the sessions to follow.

Occupational therapist vs physical therapist
Occupational therapists often don’t treat a person’s injury directly using manual therapy or acupuncture like physical therapists would. But they help the patient optimise their independence and ability to accomplish their daily activities.

Need more awareness
Many parents are aware of the various health care systems in the world; they approach the hospitals directly for help. But experts feel that a lot more needs to be done in
the country. They feel that health is still looked at as a physical aspect; there is not much of a focus on mental or developmental health.  Children must be observed carefully
for the first five years of their lives and ensured that they cross the various developmental milestones, related to physical activity and speech.

What is sensory processing disorder?
A child with neuron-developmental disorder will not be able to integrate the external environmental stimuli in a proper way. For example, if a child is always on the move and doesn’t even sit down for a minute, his/her brain is seeking movements as a sensory input. For a child who has this disorder, it might be challenging to act appropriately. The therapist helps them deal with this and understand their senses better.