Occupational therapy is a form of rehabilitation therapy. It is a crucial part of a comprehensive treatment plan for children with cerebral palsy. The aim of occupational therapy is to improve or develop the skills necessary to perform day-to-day activities. The therapy also aims to enhance independence, healthy development, well being, and overall quality of life.

How can occupational therapy benefit patients?

Occupational therapy encourages rehabilitation by helping the patient function not only at home, but also at school, or in the community or workplace.

Occupational therapists can teach patients strategies to:

  • complete daily tasks
  • maintain manageable daily routines
  • learn to adapt to personal abilities
  • compensate for limitations
  • participate in leisure activities
  • work and play independently
  • understand sensory input
  • gain confidence
  • develop problem-solving skills
  • form a sense of identity
  • freely interact with others

These strategies can help enhance patients’ independence and happiness, creating a sense of their importance in society.

What types of interventions are available?

Occupational therapists work with parents and caregivers to identify each child’s limitations and abilities. The therapists perform a series of evaluations, including motor skills tests, cognitive function tests, and developmental skills tests. Depending on their assessments, therapists design customized plans to suit each child’s physical, cognitive, and emotional abilities.

There are several occupational therapy interventions available.

Occupational therapists can teach children self-care exercises to help them with dressing, feeding, personal grooming, bathing, and brushing teeth.

They can also advise and give instructions regarding the use of assistive devices, and the adaptation of equipment and seating to enhance functional independence.

Therapists can address sensory limitations by teaching patients repetitive exercises that improve feelings and sensations, physical and mental awareness, and the body’s response to movement and touch.

They can also target visual disabilities to improve reading, writing, drawing, and the use of simple childhood tools. They can use games to help with physical functions, development, flexibility, and range of motion.

Occupational therapists can address social disabilities by using social games and other techniques to improve patients’ communication skills and help them integrate into society.

Therapists can also counsel parents to optimize their support to improve the child’s functional abilities.

What tools do occupational therapists use?

Occupational therapists use various tools and assistive devices. These may include household items, books, games, specialized toys, adaptations to clothing (such as zipper pulls and button hooks), braces and splints, adaptive instruments such as pencil grips and scissors, specialized feeding utensils, toilet and bathing aids, and specialized medical devices.


Last updated: March 17, 2020


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