Pediatric Occupational Therapy

There are many interesting jobs in the health care industry for people who want to help those in recovery. Physicians help treat illness and injury but, once their work is done, there is a lot to do in recovery. Patients need to regain strength, mobility, and memory in their muscles. Some patients need help with these functions even if they have not suffered a specific trauma. Therapists help patients work through their issues to function as easily as possible. There are physical therapists that deal with movement and occupational therapists that deal with life skills. Sometimes their responsibilities overlap.

Occupational therapists are medical professionals who help people regain the typical functions necessary for their daily lives they may have lost because of serious injury or trauma. Patients may need help strengthening atrophied muscles or they may need help recapturing the cognitive links that allowed them to do so in the first place. Occupational therapists teach their patients repeatable physical movements and mental processes to complete specific skills, from using the bathroom to driving a car.

Some people need occupational therapy because of some learning or developmental difference that makes taking care of oneself difficult. Occupational therapists help their patients with everything from refining motor skills that are sub-par to preparing for job interviews. Pediatric occupational therapy is a very specialized field, as child patients have unique issues and challenges. First, they often are not able to communicate as well as adults, so their therapists must have unique ways to get their patients to perform as they wish. Children also may lack experience and understanding of their own situation. They are also less likely to have learned appropriate skills in the first place. That being said, there is also no ceiling on the amount of improvement a child can achieve.

Pediatric occupational therapists must be patient and organized. They have to design a course of therapy that allows a patient to practice necessary skills without becoming overwhelmed by frustration or pain. Pediatric occupational therapists are answerable not only to their patient, but to the patientís parents or caregivers. Pediatric occupational therapy is a job that requires a uniquely empathetic and generous individual. Pediatric occupational therapists need a level of education and training above general occupational therapists due to the special needs of their patients.

Children who need occupational therapy might lack skills across a wide range of functions. Some need help with both their gross motor skills and their fine motor skills. Therapists give them exercises and games that train their muscles and strengthen their limbs. Many patients lack some communicative skills that peers their same age have. Pediatric occupational therapy will provide ways to communicate and interact with others to allow the child to enter school, either in a mainstream course or in special education classes. Pediatric occupational therapists teach their patients skills that other children their age perform on a regular basis. This might include cleaning themselves, acting appropriately in public places, and moderating their emotions. Perhaps most importantly, pediatric occupational therapists help children achieve a complete self-concept that will allow them to move beyond whatever challenge they have.

Last Updated: 05/22/2014