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What is Occupational Therapy?

When you hear the term occupational therapy, it may sound like a type of rehabilitation that prepares you to return to work, to resume your occupation. It actually encompasses so much more, because it enables you to live life to the fullest regardless of your age, what you may be recovering from, or if you are living with a disability.


Occupational therapy does focus on occupations, but it is not limited to employment. In this type of rehabilitation, occupations refer to any activity of daily living. The therapy is customized to each patient’s individual needs.


There are many different scenarios that can warrant your doctor ordering occupational therapy for you or a loved one. You may need help regaining skills after an injury or surgery. You may be caring for a parent or grandparent who is experiencing age-related cognitive or physical changes. Sometimes children who are born with certain health conditions may require therapy to prepare them for school.


First, there is an initial evaluation, then a customized care plan is created, and there are periodic reevaluations to ensure that the patient is receiving the best possible rehabilitation for their continued success.

  • Initial Evaluation – The patient, their family, and the occupational therapist sit down together to determine what skills the patient is going to work towards and set some initial goals.
  • Customized Care Plan – Your occupational therapist creates an individualized plan of care to help the patient improve their ability to perform their daily activities and strive to meet their initial goals.
  • Periodic Reevaluations – As the patient’s skills improve, new goals are set. Changes can also be made to the care plan to better serve the patient’s needs in order to achieve those goals.


During occupational therapy sessions, the focus is on adaptation. The patient and their therapist work together to either adapt the task at hand or to adapt the patient’s environment so that they may function as independently as possible and thrive.

Post Injury or Surgery 

Exercises after an injury include stretches to avoid stiffness and range of motion to strengthen surrounding muscles. Injury management can include worksite assessments to ensure an ergonomically correct environment.

Post-surgery occupational therapy focuses on tools and techniques to help you compensate until you heal physically. Your therapist will show you how to use a dressing stick, a sock aid, or a long-handled shoehorn.

Techniques include ways to move around safely such as:

  • How to get out of bed without twisting or bending
  • How to use a cane or walker properly
  • How to sit properly
  • How to use grab bars in the bathroom

Age-Related Cognitive or Physical Impairments

Cognitive exercises may include:

  • Memoir Writing
  • Playing Games
  • Building Puzzles
  • Listening to Music
  • Learning a New Skill

There are a number of modalities for regaining use of hands stiffened by arthritis or stroke such as:

  • Stretches
  • Fine Motor Skills Therapies involving stacking small items, pinching clothespins, using a pen, stringing beads, origami paper folding, practicing fastening clothing with buttons, using scissors, tying shoes
  • Strengthening Exercises using a therapy ball or putty

Exercises that support upper body strength and range of motion aid the patient in achieving independence with daily activities such as bathing, dressing, light housekeeping, and cooking and include:

  • Ball toss
  • Folding blankets
  • Yoga
  • Arm bike


Our professional therapists help patients regain the physical skills needed to function safely and independently at home, at work, and during other daily activities. To achieve these goals, our occupational therapists:

  • Perform ADL (Activities of Daily Living ) apartment assessment
  • Maximize independence with activities of daily living
  • Increase independence and safety within a home-like setting
  • Educate on the use of adaptive equipment
  • Educate on modifications
  • Offer compensatory strategies
  • Perform splinting

The caring professionals at The Arbors in Amarillo, Texas are highly skilled and experienced in getting you back to your normal life with a short-term stay that yields long-term results. Schedule your consultation today.