Occupational Therapy Week: ‘The Job for the Skills of Living’
Work done by healthcare workers often does not receive the recognition it deserves largely due to the fact that most of it is done behind the scenes and rarely highlighted.
Occupational Therapy (OT) aims to improve the life of the sick and impaired - focussing on people with a physical, sensory, or cognitive disability - by assisting them to lead as independent a life as possible by empowering them through using meaningful activities that helps improve their functioning, dignity and quality of life. Their patients therefore mostly cannot do what many would consider ordinary and familiar tasks that form part of daily life, due to their illness, injury or disability.
In observance of National Occupational Therapy Week from 6 – 10 October, Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital would like to emphasise the important role that occupational therapy plays within the paediatric setting and as part of the multi-disciplinary team.
In a paediatric setting occupational therapists evaluate a child’s skills for playing, school performance and daily activities and compare it to what is developmentally appropriate for that age group.
Children who could need occupational therapy include children with the following medical conditions:
- Birth defects
- Traumatic injuries (brain or spinal cord)
- Developmental disorders such as Autism
- Spina Bifida
- Mental health or behavioural problems
- Cerebral Palsy
Occupational therapy helps develop children’s fine motor skills to grasp and release toys, addresses hand-eye coordination to improve play and school skills such as hitting a ball and helps children with severe developmental delays learn basic tasks such as bathing and getting dressed.
Western Cape Minister of Health, Theuns Botha, commented: “I want to thank all our occupational therapists for their outstanding work. The outcomes of the work they do are outstanding. This work is in-line with the Western Cape Government’s strategic objective of creating wellness, meaning to build a stronger community, physically as well as mentally.”
Conditions which are commonly treated at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital include, but are not limited to:
- Head injury post motor/pedestrian vehicle accident
- Autistic Spectrum Disorders and Pervasive Development Disorders
- Mental Health Illnesses
- Congenital/traumatic hand injuries
- Burn injuries which restrict, or limit, participation in activities of daily living (particularly burn injuries sustained to the hands).
To raise awareness around the work that occupational therapist do, the team at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital will be hosting puppet shows in the wards and distributing information brochures to parents and visitors to the hospital.
For more information on occupational therapy visit www.otasa.org.za