What is occupational therapy?
The therapeutic use of activities of daily living (alimentation, hygiene), productive activities (school and work area) and leisure time activities (game, social activities) in people who are limited in some way.
What is it for?
It has several purposes: to prevent injuries or disabilities, maintain health, to develop the required practices of daily life, improve or evaluate behavior, improve and enhance the physical and cognitive abilities, emotional support and psychosocial development. All with the aim to promote the highest level of independence and integration to improve the quality of life in patients.
Who benefits from OT?
People / children with physical, cognitive or sensory impairments or with psychosocial disorders. People, who have experienced psychological trauma. Also children with behavioral problems and attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder or developmental or learning disability.
What are the measures?
Handcrafts and plastic work. Motion, coordination and attention games. Tactile, visual, auditory, gustatory stimulation. Different activities of daily life.
Occupational therapy is important for the health of children living in NPH
Many children living in our homes have chronic health issues and interdisciplinary and complementary treatment of their diseases is important. This is achieved by combining pharmaceutical or medical treatment with different types of therapies, including teachers and caregivers. Constant communication and exchange on the effects of the taken measures is necessary to develop a holistic therapeutic concept.
Children with physical diseases, ei., rheumatoid arthritis or other physical disabilities often need to take medicine. Yet another essential part of their treatment is physiotherapy and occupational therapy to achieve more independence, and to improve quality of life. Also for children with mental disorders, ei., children with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or behavioral disorders, proper and interdisciplinary treatment is important. There is increasing evidence of the positive effects of occupational therapy in the treatment regime of ADHD. Many times with appropriate additional therapy – psychotherapy, art therapy and occupational therapy – you can avoid the use of medicine or lower the dosage gradually. Medication used for these conditions can always have side effects and have a big impact on the lives of these children, causing drowsiness or other physical consequences.
Experience of a volunteer at Casa San Salvador in Mexico
My name is Annika, and I am from Germany and I am an occupational therapist. In January, I started with the occupational therapy project in the clinic in San Salvador in Miacatlán. As an appropriate program of occupational therapy was never established before, a new implementation was started: petition and purchase of the equipment, installation of the workshop and selection of patients for therapy. First I was not sure if it was really necessary to begin with occupational therapy because the house existed for a long time without such therapy, but now, after almost six months, I realize that it is an important way to support the children living in the home.
In the first week here, I had a meeting with the art therapist and the psychologist to find what children could benefit from occupational therapy. Thanks to the donations from Germany and others, we began to choose and buy the material in cooperation with the project coordinator. I was able to set up the workshop and step by step I began with therapy.
Most children with whom I am working, have the diagnosis of ADHD, they are very restless, cannot sit quiet in the classroom and show a deficit of concentration and attention. That´s why they have problems at school and cannot perform in their work. In individual and group therapy I am working with them on relaxation, concentration and perception to improve their attention. Some children also have difficulties in gross and fine motor skills or have diagnosis of physical or cognitive development delay. With those children I am working on cognitive and fine motor skills such as teaching them how to write with pencil correctly. Additionally I also do therapy with two women who have rheumatoid arthritis and are bedridden at the clinic.
The children are very motivated, that´s why working with them is very vivid and gives me a lot of joy. For me, the best thing is that I can gradually see the success of the therapy. For example, with one boy I worked very hard and we did an intensive stimulation therapy for his muscles, joints and tactile system (2 hours daily for 10 days). I worked with him in group therapy and individually in concentration. After a few months I talked to his teacher and he told me that he is able to concentrate better in the classroom. He is paying more attention to his work at school, is less disruptive and therefore can learn better. Also in his home he is calmer. These successes make me very happy and I can see that occupational therapy is an important part of the healthcare system here in NPH Mexico.
Contributed by Annika Schulte, Volunteer NPH Mexico