The purpose of occupational therapy activities is usually to help patients cope with physical and mental disabilities in daily life. Occupational therapy activities can help patients learn or re-learn ordinary skills, such as bathing, dressing, and eating. Occupational therapy also often seeks to help patients manage leisure-time activities. Patients can use this therapy to overcome physical and cognitive disabilities as much as possible so they may live independent, functional lives. Activities incorporated in occupational therapy usually include learning how to meet one's own physical needs, learning how to perform work-related tasks, and learning how to enjoy oneself alone and in company, in spite of the limitations created by physical and cognitive handicaps.
Occupational therapists typically try to focus on the physical, mental, and emotional needs of their patients. Some patients suffer congenital conditions that can limit their activities and independence from birth. Other patients suffer injury or illness later in life, and need to re-learn skills that once may have come easily. Occupational therapy activities seek to help patients function in daily life to the best of their abilities. Some patients may never be able to function as well as persons who aren't disabled, but occupational therapy generally seeks to help these patients function as well as possible.
Most people who seek occupational therapy need to learn or re-learn the skills necessary for looking after themselves. Occupational therapy activities are often designed to help disabled patients learn how to feed, dress, bathe, and groom themselves. Some patients may wish to learn skills that can help them perform household chores, such as cooking and cleaning, independently.
People with physical and cognitive disabilities may wish to seek gainful employment. Occupational therapy activities can help patients learn skills considered valuable in the workplace. Other chores and tasks may fall under this category as well.
Occupational therapy activities can also help patients learn how to enjoy themselves during down-time. Cognitive and physical disabilities can make social interactions, sports, and other leisure activities difficult. Occupational therapists often seek to help their patients make the best use of free time, so that they can lead fun, fulfilling lives.
This type of therapy can help patients accommodate and overcome their physical limitations, but it generally isn't restricted to that. People suffering from mental disorders and cognitive disabilities can also learn important coping skills, to lead happier, more productive lives.