What are the Different Types of Occupational Therapy Equipment?

B. Miller

Occupational therapy equipment is used to assist people with disabilities, or other special needs, with the daily tasks of living, and is used in all age groups from children to the elderly. Each therapeutic tool is designed to make life easier for the person who uses it, and occupational therapists will be able to design programs for each individual patient. Because there are different reasons one might require occupational therapy, there are many different types of occupational therapy equipment.

Occupational therapy is often used to help children with developmental disabilities or delays to improve their ability to move their bodies.
Occupational therapy is often used to help children with developmental disabilities or delays to improve their ability to move their bodies.

A physical disability may be temporary, such as while the patient is recovering from surgery, illness, or a traumatic injury, or it may be permanent. In either case, there is occupational therapy equipment to foster independence, and allow the patient to live as normal of a life as possible. The types of equipment used in these cases might include tools to assist with bathing, getting dressed, putting on shoes, grooming oneself, or extension tools to assist with grabbing items around the house. There are also tools to assist with working in the kitchen and preparing foods, including modified dining utensils. Tools to assist with mobility, such as walkers, canes, and wheelchairs, are other types of occupational therapy equipment used when physical disabilities are present.

The goal of occupational therapy is to address any issue that limits the patient's functionality.
The goal of occupational therapy is to address any issue that limits the patient's functionality.

Some types of occupational therapy equipment might assist people with mental or emotional challenges, such as learning to interact successfully with others, express themselves effectively, manage emotions, or even learn how to maintain a household budget or perform tasks such as grocery shopping. The type of occupational therapy equipment used here might be board games, electronic devices, or other types of stimulating activities designed for each patient's specific needs.

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Occupational therapy products may include items such as canes.
Occupational therapy products may include items such as canes.

The equipment may be designed for other uses as well, such as to improve visual perception, thinking and reasoning skills, concentration, and sensory processing skills, among others. Role playing techniques are frequently used, to give the patient real world experience and techniques to use in various challenging situations. Occupational therapy may be able to assist people when returning to work or school as well.

Some types of occupational therapy equipment may assist patients with mental challenges.
Some types of occupational therapy equipment may assist patients with mental challenges.

Keep in mind that occupational therapy and physical therapy are two different things, and may be done simultaneously or separately from each other. It may be possible that a patient may only need occupational therapy, and not physical therapy. Physical therapy is designed to build up strength, reduce pain, improve gross motor skills, and increase endurance. Occupational therapy focuses on the daily business of living, and the ways in which the patient will need to occupy his or her time.

Walkers are a type of occupational therapy equipment that assist those with mobility issues.
Walkers are a type of occupational therapy equipment that assist those with mobility issues.

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Discussion Comments


As this article mentions, there are different types of occupational therapy equipment and practices. It's important to work with a therapist to identify what is the right solution for each individual's case. Make sure your therapist gives you a full assessment before determining the type of therapy for your situation.


Occupational therapy equipment can mean a lot of things such as a cup or a towel, since one of our roles is to assist with activities of daily living.

However, on the other hand, equipment can mean a TENS unit, VitalStim or the latest transcranial stimulation machines, or even a giant Snozelen room.

The most important thing is not the equipment limiting us. Even a paper and pen can make the difference with an occupational therapist.


I work with children with autism and I think some of the greatest occupational therapy equipment that I have seen being used are the sensory equipment materials that they use with children with autism.

They use textured materials, different colored material from shiny items to dull items, and lots of things that will give the child with autism sensory input into their body.

Such items that given a child with autism sensory input into their body include weighted vest, weighted blankets to help them sleep, ball pits for lots of sensory input, and swings for a whole different type of sensory input.

If I had a child with autism I would check occupational therapy equipment catalogs and you can usually find a section labeled "autism" or "sensory" and discuss possibilities for your child with your child's occupational therapist.


My's school's occupational therapy department is a large one, which is expected since our school is a public separate school for children with disabilities which means more than half of our student's receive occupational therapy.

Because of the large department and abundance of toys (that occupational therapists use as equipment) in that department, I have found that as a speech language pathologist (a.k.a. speech therapist) for the schools that many times occupational therapy equipment for children makes great speech therapy equipment.

I have found that this is because many of the activities they do are fun and motivating for the young students, and there are always things that speech therapists can find to talk about concerning the equipment to make it appropriate for speech therapy.

I would not try to use a piece of equipment that involved teaching an occupational therapy skill, rather just a fun toy that involves a skill that the student has already mastered.

So I guess that could be a suggestion to parents as well. Find some occupational therapy equipment that your child has mastered their ability to use and have them practice that at home as a fun and independent activity that they can do.


My neighbor had a stroke, and he had to relearn many basic things. One of these things was speech.

An occupational therapist came to his house several times a week with flash cards. She would hold up a card and he would try to say what was on it. If he could not pronounce it correctly, she would state it out loud until he copied her.

He also had several exercises to do in the form of board games that involved spatial relationships and problems solving. They were simple, but they served to stimulate the part of his mind that had temporarily shut down.

I think if it hadn't been for the flash cards and board games, his mind would have stayed in hibernation. Occupational therapy is crucial to recovery, and no one should refuse it, because that is just giving up on life.


@orangey03 – It's great that tools exist that help injured people remain independent. My uncle is a lot like your grandmother. When he injured his knee, there was no way he would let anyone move in with him and help him out with daily tasks.

He did get a cane and a tool that helped him grab things down low without having to bend over. The cane let him walk around the house, and it helped him maintain his balance.

His knee hurt so much that he could not bend it. So, the extension tool helped him out a lot. He used it to grab clothes out of the bottom drawer, among other things.

He was able to keep his dignity and pride because of these tools. Some people would actually rather have help from another person, but for people with an aversion to that, occupational therapy equipment is indispensable.


My grandmother used a walker while recovering from hip surgery. She had fallen and broken her hip, so she had to have it replaced. It took awhile for her to recover enough to walk on her own, and I'm sure that her age had something to do with this.

The walker helped her get up from her chair. She grabbed onto it and lifted herself with her arms.

It also helped her get to the bathroom without someone else to help her. She was able to guide her body down onto the toilet and back up to a standing position with it.

I know that this was what she needed. She is very independent, and she would have hated to have a nurse there helping her with every little thing.

She has now recovered fully. She keeps the walker in a closet, just in case she should need it again someday.

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