Understanding Occupational Therapy


Perhaps your doctor or your hospital has advised you to look into Occupational Therapy for yourself or a loved one?  You’ve heard of it but you’re not sure what it really means.  

At HT Neuro Rehab, we specialise in Occupational Therapy for young adults and beyond.  We’ll help explain what occupational therapy means, how it can help you and how it can improve quality of life following an accident, injury or illness.

Always Check Your Occupational Therapist’s Qualifications

Occupational Therapy is a clinical need for people that have lost mobility or have cognitive impairment.  To be an Occupational Therapist, you need to study and gain a qualification.  The profession is governed by the Health and Care Professions Council so when seeking out an Occupational Therapist, check their qualifications and registration (https://www.hcpc-uk.org HCPC).  You can find more information on our blog.

OT Looks at the Whole Person

Occupational Therapy takes a holistic view of the patient, assessing mental and physical health.  Sometimes, an illness can affect mental and physical ability which is why it’s important to look at a person as a “whole”.  

The aim of this type of therapy is to rebuild people’s mobility and mental skills if they’ve been affected through accident, illness or injury but it’s also exceptionally beneficial for people born with physical or cognitive impairment. 

Attaining as Much Physical and Cognitive Independence as Possible

In general, Occupational Therapy helps people to overcome their physical, cognitive  and mental barriers that stop them from doing the things they want to do, from day-to-day tasks (cooking, washing, dressing, getting up etc.) to returning or being in the workplace. An OT can also help in a range of life areas including work, so individuals can return to work. 

Overall, the key is to improve the patient’s quality of life.  

It’s very much about attaining independence; whether the patient used to be independent or they haven’t managed to achieve independence because they have a condition that affects their ability.  That’s why the word “occupation” is used. 

How Long Does the Therapy Take? 

At HT Neuro Rehab, we often get asked how long therapy takes.  The truth is, there’s no “set” rule. Some people need a few sessions to regain their skills but other people need ongoing Occupational Therapy and it can take time to regain as much independence as possible.  

With some of our patients, we work alongside a medical team, perhaps doctors, nurses, caregivers but also physiotherapists and other medically trained individuals.  Often, an Occupational Therapist is called in to help a patient’s recovery and is part of a larger programme for the journey back to health.

At HT Neuro Rehab, we like to take therapy one step at a time, conquering each barrier carefully before moving onto the next challenge. As an example, a barrier might be struggling to use a zipper pull or do up buttons because of poor motor skills but it could be bigger challenges, such as walking unaided or difficulty with balance. 

No matter how big the challenges, Occupational Therapy can make a really positive difference and with regular therapy, as time progresses, we find that every time a challenge is overcome, it clears the pathway for the next, helping the journey to progress at a better pace but for best results, it cannot be rushed (https://www.rcot.co.uk ). 

Where Does Occupational Therapy Take Place?

Our team can work with individuals in any setting, at home, in a healthcare setting (hospital, clinic or similar), even at the workplace.  Sessions start after a thorough assessment of physical and cognitive skills and then we come up with a programme of exercises to attain achievable goals.  As well as exercises to improve cognitive and physical ability, we might also advise specialist equipment to make life easier or to help along the road to recovery.

Who Might Need Occupational Therapy?

If you’re unsure if your condition could benefit from Occupational Therapy, it’s always worth a chat to determine what your needs are and what an OT could do for you.  At HT Neuro Rehab, these are the types of individuals that we work with (however this list is not exhaustive, please reach out to us if your condition or concern isn’t covered):

  • Individuals with autism, perhaps they might find routines challenging due to sensory processing, self-regulation and difficulty with communication.  Sometimes, our clients with autism need some assistance improving their fine and gross motor skills (National autism society https://www.autism.org.uk).
  • Stroke patients, when areas of the body are affected such as one side, perhaps the arm or leg (or other areas) don’t work as well as before trauma.  Occupational Therapy helps to improve range of movement and cope with impaired mobility.  Often, OT can return most movement (depending on how significant the stroke) (Stroke association https://www.stroke.org.uk).
  • Adults, young adults and children with neurological issues such as cerebral palsy, brain injuries, MS, epilepsy, spinal cord injury and others.  Occupational Therapy can help with establishing routines, improving fine and gross motor skills and also improve mental ability.
  • Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in adults, Occupational Therapy can make a positive difference improving sensory processing, communication and bolster memory where possible.  Our therapy can also improve mobility (Dementia UK https://www.dementiauk.org).
  • Pain Management.  With a trained Occupational Therapist, there are various pieces of equipment and methods to alleviate chronic pain.
  • Individuals with Musculoskeletal Conditions, Occupational Therapy can help restore movement following hip replacement, knee replacement, shoulder replacement etc.  It is also an excellent therapy for arthritis and fibromyalgia sufferers.


On a final note, if you or your loved one is not living life to the fullest because of a physical or mental impairment, Occupational Therapy could make a world of difference. 

Once therapy has begun, the differences are usually visible within just a few short sessions and can renew someone’s confidence, help them feel that life can be enjoyed once again and even change the way they see the future.  

For more information on what HT Neuro Rehab could do for you or a loved one, contact us here. 

What should I do if I have more questions?

  • Contact your GP for advice 
  • Ask your GP for a referral to your local OT service 
  • You can contact us for more details on our services or book a free call back for a chat on your requirements.  


RCOT https://www.rcot.co.uk 
HCPC https://www.hcpc-uk.org
National autism society https://www.autism.org.uk
Stroke association https://www.stroke.org.uk
Dementia UK https://www.dementiauk.org
NICE guidance for stroke rehabilitation  https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg162