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Reasons you or a loved one might need occupational therapy

Did you know occupational therapy is a serious game changer when it comes to helping people achieve independence and complete day-to-day activities? Believe it.

“The goal of occupational therapy is very straightforward: we help individuals reach their goals and maintain the skills necessary for day-to-day activities,” says Katie Stewart, OTD, OTR/L, an occupational therapist at Maury Regional Physical Therapy Center in Columbia.

According to Stewart, occupational therapists treat people at all stages of life. For example, they work with children reaching developmental milestones, students performing school-related tasks and adults returning to day-to-day activities after an accident or medical incident.

For children and young students, occupational therapists typically help them:

  • Improve fine motor skills (e.g., grasping finger foods, using utensils and scissors, handwriting, using both hands together, etc.)
  • Improve independence in age-appropriate daily tasks (e.g., eating, dressing, brushing teeth, etc.)
  • Improve hand-eye coordination and visual perception skills
  • Address sensory needs (e.g., sensitivity to light, noise and texture as well as a need for movement) to improve attention and engagement in activities

Adults in need of occupational therapy may have an existing medical condition, experienced a stroke or been in an accident that is impacting their ability to perform daily tasks independently. For adult patients, Stewart says the goal is to get them back to their prior tasks, roles and hobbies by addressing their underlying needs, such as range of motion, coordination, dexterity and strength in addition to educating on adaptive techniques when appropriate. Ultimately, this work helps them to complete daily tasks, such as:                                  

  • Eating
  • Dressing and grooming
  • Accomplishing household tasks (e.g., cooking, cleaning, doing laundry)
  • Reintegrating to work and social settings

Occupational therapists will also provide guidance on how to use adaptive devices (tools that assist with activities of daily living) at home, work and school.

“Our role as occupational therapists is to help people of all ages reach their goals and to assist individuals in reaching independence in day-to-day tasks,” Stewart says. “We’ll start by assessing your needs and then establish a treatment plan together.”

For more information about occupational therapy, visit

Katie Stewart, OTD, OTR/L, is an occupational therapist who practices at Maury Regional Physical Therapy Center (858 W. James Campbell Blvd., Columbia, TN). She earned her doctorate in occupational therapy from Belmont University.


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