What can your occupational therapist do for you?

What can your occupational therapist do for you?

What can my Occupational Therapist do for me

1) What is an OT?

Clients often wonder what exactly the role of an occupational therapist (OT) is in their care following a motor vehicle accident. By definition, occupational therapy “is the art and science of enabling engagement in everyday living, through occupation; of enabling people to perform the occupations that foster health and well-being; and of enabling a just and inclusive society so that all people may participate to their potential in the daily occupations of life” (Townsend & Polatajko, 2007, p. 372). In simpler terms, OTs help you do the things you want and need to do in your daily life to function independently. OTs aim to reduce the costly effects of disability and dependent living (CAOT, 2016).

According to research, your health and wellbeing are influenced by your ability to engage in occupations. Improving your ability to function independently and exercise choice and control over your daily activities, increases your productivity and life satisfaction (CAOT, 2016). Can you imagine your quality of life if you were not able to feed or dress yourself? Can you imagine being so distracted after a traumatic brain injury that you fail to accomplish any productive activities? Many changes can occur in your abilities after a motor vehicle accident and your OT can assess you, and make a treatment plan to help you get back to doing the things you did prior to your accident.

2) How can my OT help me?

Here are a few examples of how an OT can help you after a motor vehicle accident:

  • Following a brain injury, individuals often have trouble concentrating and attending to activities such as banking or school work. Having a good understanding of neuroanatomy and keeping up to date with the best treatments for your condition, your OT will work with you to improve your concentration and attention so you can engage in your activities.
  • Experiencing chronic pain after your motor vehicle accident? Your OT can help you deal with and manage your chronic pain using evidence based best practices guidelines.
  • Experiencing anxiety or depression after your motor vehicle accident? Talk to your OT. Did you know OTs are trained to perform psychotherapy? Psychotherapy is a form of psychological intervention for emotional or behavioral regulation. OTs can help you cope with your anxiety and depression.
  • Having trouble walking? An OT will assess you to determine what the cause of your walking troubles are and can either remediate and strengthen through exercise, recommend orthotics to protect/correct your joints, or modify your environment through providing an appropriate mobility device, such as a wheelchair or walker.
  • Your OT will help you set realistic goals and make a plan to complete them.
  • Coach you on evidence based skills and techniques required in daily activities, such as money/time management, coping methods, attention and memory strategies.
  • Help you structure daily activities and establish routines e.g. bathing, dressing, grooming, meal preparation, etc.
  • Develop routines to deal with issues that repeatedly create problems.
  • Identify problematic behaviors and strategies to change these e.g. lashing out, anger, depression, anxiety, outbursts, etc.
  • Assist you and your family to navigate medical rehabilitation services.
  • Facilitate social and community reintegration e.g. grocery shopping, banking, work, driving, etc.
  • Recommend appropriate equipment modifications in your home, work, or school environments to increase your independence.
  • Work with your employers to create return-to-work programs.
  • Help you work towards your goals to get better.

These are just some of the many things your OT can help you with. Talk to your OT to see what they can help you with.

CAOT. (2016). Retrieved from http://www.caot.ca/default.asp?pageid=3024


  • Polatajko, H.J., Townsend, E.A., & Craik, J. (2007). Canadian Model of Occupational Performance and Engagement (CMOP-E). In E.A. Townsend and H.J. Polatajko (Eds.), Enabling Occupation II: Advancing an occupational vision of health, well-being, &            justice through occupation. 372, Ottawa, ON: CAOT Publications ACE.