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What is Occupational Therapy? what does it mean?

Occupational therapy is one of the allied health specialties that contribute to the patient's rehabilitation. The occupational therapist role begins with assessing the condition of the individual and the extent of the barriers that impede the individual's completion of an activity. Accordingly, the therapist develops an appropriate treatment plan that may include modifying some activities of the individual to suit his abilities, new activities suitable for the individual, or he may suggest some assistive tools that facilitates performing daily life activities in the simplest way possible.

Occupational therapy takes a holistic comprehensive view of the individual, taking into account the influence of his strengths and weaknesses on the completion of task, and the influence of the surrounding environment on the correct response and the individual’s desire to participate in the tasks. In addition, occupational therapist focuses on different aspects of the individual, including the psychological, mental, physical and social aspects. Another role of the occupational therapist is to provide advice and guidance to make the home an appropriate environment for the individual's condition by reducing the hindering barriers.

Moreover, the occupational therapist relies on evaluating the condition of the individual and providing treatment to enhance, restore or maintain activities that are most important to the individual. It is common for an occupational therapist to receive all ages with a variety of conditions in different departments. They may receive:

  • Neurological issues such as stroke and spinal cord injuries.

  • Issues that affect children such as cerebral palsy and developmental delay.

  • Mental health disorders such as schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

  • Hand injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome and nerve injuries.

  • People who have swallowing difficulties

  • Burned individuals

  • Workers (to improve the work environment)

Finally, an occupational therapist helps people do the tasks they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities (occupations) as they enable individuals of all ages to live life to the fullest by helping them promote health, prevent, or live better with a condition.

What are the Specialties of Occupational Therapy? 

Occupational therapy offers customized treatment plans to improve an individual's ability to perform daily activities, and treatment plans may differ by the difference of cases.  Occupational therapy includes many specialties, including:

The treatment plan may include some therapeutic activities, adjusting and adapting the home and work environment, or instructing the individual to use some adaptive tools. These tasks/ activities are divided into eight main areas:

  • Activities of daily living (such as eating, dressing, etc.)

  • Instrumental activities for daily living (shopping, caring for others, driving, etc.)

  • Work (job performance, participation in volunteering, etc.)

  • Education (participation in formal education, etc.)

  • Play (explore and participate in play)

  • Rest and sleep (preparing for sleep, falling asleep)

  • Leisure (exploring and participating in recreational activities)

  • Social participation (community, family, friends)

History of Occupational Therapy 

Moral Treatment Movement:

During the 18th century, people with mental illness were viewed as wild animals. They were subjected to torturous treatments, for example, beating, whipping, shocking and starvation. Therefore, two revolutionaries from Europe known as Philippe Pinel and Johann Christian Reil reinvented the hospital system. They started the moral treatment movement which was built upon a principle of respecting the person and his needs. Both Pinel and Reil established institutions that used work and leisure activities, such as sports and music, as methods for treating patients with psychiatric illness. These methods began to thrive in Europe and gained interest around the world. In the 19th century, Benjamin Rush who was known as the father of the American psychiatry started using this treatment method and introduced the moral treatment movement all through the united states of America.


This movement emerged between 1860 and 1910 when the United States of America started to become an industrialized country and factories became more prominent. The health of people who worked in factories started to deteriorate. Moreover, many people carried the belief that industrialization made men less creative and that it was destroying the society as machine production was taking over the traditional skills and crafts. The arts and crafts movement made a lot of people return to practicing handcrafting and farming. Furthermore, workshops were created in which people with physical and psychological disabilities were allowed to participate in and practice arts and crafts and there was a noticeable improvement in their conditions.


This movement was established after discovering that laziness is a common symptom between people with mental illness. Therefore, a program called habit training was developed. It was based on the philosophy that creating engaging and meaningful routines would be able to better frame a person’s wellbeing. It mostly focuses on creating structure and balance between how individuals spend their time (working, resting and leisure). Habit training was developed by a social-welfare worker called Eleanor Clark Slagle. Although this program was first established to help treat individuals with mental illness, the basic principles are still seen in modern treatment models that are used to help a larger population.

Eleanor Clarke Slagle (1870-1942) is known as the “mother” of Occupational Therapy and was a founding member of National Society for the Promotion of Occupational Therapy (NSPOT). During the early years of Occupational Therapy, NSPOT suggested that habit training should be the primary model of treatment used within Occupational Therapy.

During the 20th century, Occupational Therapy continued to develop, and it became more important and known after both world war I and II where occupational therapy was used to physically treat and rehabilitate the wounded soldiers.

Arts and Crafts Movement:
Mental Hygiene Movement:

Our Values & Ethics

We have many values and ethics that we follow when providing treatment, including: charity, do no harm, respect for self-control and privacy, justice, accuracy, and sincerity (faithfulness).

The occupational therapist must take care of the recipient of the service’s safety, avoid doing things that might harm, respect the patient's right and ensure that his consent is obtained before providing any treatment. They must also promote fairness and integrity and provide comprehensive, accurate and objective information to the recipients of care, and provide fairness and respect to them. Occupational therapy also values the importance of independence in performing the functions of daily life, and adapting the environment to the needs of the individual.  Go to Wikipedia 

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