Ref: CHB/HB/47/15                                                                         

OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY

Occupational therapy is one of the newer professions unheard of here in Tanzania and often mistaken for something else.
 
When one mentions occupational therapy, the immediate response to that is “oh right, physiotherapy stuff? Counseling? Something like speech therapy, right” For the professional, it is a cringing-from-within feeling, but the difference of this therapy is that it not only focuses on rehabilitating just the body, but also the mind.
 
Physiotherapy focuses on the body’s strength and ability to move, where as occupational therapy is concerned with the overall function.

Speech therapy is a whole different field related to managing and supporting individuals having difficulty in communicating or difficulty with swallowing. However, as a team, we all work hand-in-hand with various cases to provide maximum benefit for the individual.
 
Occupational therapy enables people of all ages to live life to its fullest and engagement in everyday living, through occupation; of enabling people to perform the occupations that foster health and well-being; and of enabling a just and inclusive society so that all people may participate to their potential in the daily occupations of life (such as self-care, productivity and leisure) (Townsend & Polatajko, 2007, p. 372).
 
Individuals (especially from the young age) are assisted to develop, recover and improve the skills needed for daily living by looking at the whole picture — a client’s psychological, physical, emotional, and social make-up. We then assist people to achieve their goals, function at the highest possible level, maintain or rebuild their independence and participate in the everyday activities of life.

Occupational therapists work in a variety of settings such as hospitals, rehabilitations centers, community centers, schools, workplaces, prisons and private homes.

At the same time, therapists work with a diverse group of people: from people who have mental, physical or developmental disabilities to ones who have emotional impairments.

Therapists not only help improve their basic functions and reasoning abilities, but also prevent permanent loss of function. Their main objective is to help patients be independent, productive and achieve a more satisfying life!

Being a registered occupational therapist takes patience, ingenuity, determination, common sense, a sound knowledge base and enthusiasm. Most of all, it requires an interest in working closely with people to enable them to lead full and satisfying lives as independently as possible.
 
Occupational therapy is a career with good growth potential.
 
Article contributed by:
Fathema Hasham
Occupational Therapist
 

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