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Occupational Therapy

What is occupational therapy? 

Occupational therapy (OT) is type of care that promotes skills and abilities for the “jobs” of living. Therapy helps people be able to do the everyday tasks that are important to them — at home, play, school, and work. For children, this may mean reaching developmental milestones, succeeding at school, or being able to do age-appropriate activities on their own.

Occupational therapist smiles while working with very young pediatric cancer patient.

A pediatric occupational therapist helps children and teens participate in the "jobs" of childhood: learning, playing, sleeping, growing, and gaining independence.

A pediatric occupational therapist helps children and teens participate in the “jobs” of childhood: learning, playing, sleeping, growing, and gaining independence. For children and teens with cancer, common areas of treatment include:

  • Fine motor skills for grasping objects and writing
  • Addressing limitations such as developmental delays, weakness or low vision
  • Daily tasks like eating, bathing, grooming, toileting, and getting dressed
  • Age-based life skills like cooking, household chores, school and job skills, and driving

Occupational therapy includes exercises and activities to promote daily skills and independence. Occupational therapy can help with:

  • Physical fitness and endurance to be able to participate in activities
  • Fine motor skills
  • Visual perception
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Cognition
  • Developmental delays
  • Feeding and oral function
  • Activities of daily life
  • Sensory, attention, and behavior issues
  • Medical and adaptive aids

Finding an occupational therapist

Occupational therapists are licensed health professionals with a graduate degree in occupational therapy (OT). They work in a variety of settings including hospitals, clinics, schools, and homes. Depending on your child’s needs, occupational therapy may be available as part of an early intervention program (birth to 3 years of age) or in schools within an individualized education program (IEP). Your doctor can help you find an occupational therapist who works with children (pediatric occupational therapist).

Reviewed: June 2018