FAQ About Occupational Therapy

 FAQ about occupational therapy

For people with physical, developmental, social, or emotional challenges, occupational therapy can mean a significant increase in their quality of life. Here are some common questions about occupational therapy and how it differs from other rehabilitation treatments:

What is occupational therapy?

Occupational therapy provides activities to restore and enhance skills needed for functional daily living. Therapists use a variety of customized exercises in the categories of self-care, work, and play (in other words, “occupations”) with the goal of increasing independence and advancing health and wellbeing. 

What is occupational science?

The science behind occupational therapy has been developed over decades, focusing on specific populations (such as seniors, children, or people with certain illnesses), the challenges they face when engaging in meaningful activities, and how those activities provide meaning and purpose to life. 

Where does occupational therapy take place?

Occupational therapy treatment can be provided in a wide variety of settings, including hospitals, rehabilitation centers, long term nursing facilities, private practices, mental health and community centers, or in the patient’s home.

How does occupational therapy differ from physical therapy?

While physical therapy is meant to restore mobility and independence after an injury or illness, occupational therapy helps people of all ages obtain or maintain “skills for the job of living,” as it’s often described. Physical therapy primarily focuses on improving strength, balance, and range of motion. Skills addressed through occupational therapy may include eating, dressing, and other self-care activities, as well as work and school activities.

How do occupational therapists devise a treatment plan?

Before therapy begins, occupational therapists evaluate patients to assess motor skills, visual perception, sensory processing, and daily living skills. While standardized assessment tools are used along with clinical observations, the treatment plan is customized to each individual patient’s needs and adjusted during treatment as necessary.

What conditions are treatable with occupational therapy?


Occupational therapy is used to treat conditions that are the result of an accident, age, or are present from birth. Some conditions include arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, dyspraxia, schizophrenia, and depression, as well as physical and mental symptoms of aging. The ability to engage in meaningful activities that are otherwise difficult due to physical or emotional limitations can have positive effects on a patient’s overall health. The confidence that comes from enhanced self-reliance has been known to have a significant impact on health outcomes.

What type of equipment is involved in occupational therapy?

There are several pieces of equipment that can be used to facilitate a patient's independence and safety. Assistive devices such as walkers and canes can improve stability and prevent falls, while a “reacher” or “grabber” can enable patients to avoid bending, and a long-handled shower sponge can allow patients to wash their back and other hard-to-reach areas without assistance. An occupational therapist may recommend any type of adaptive equipment as part of a treatment plan.  

Improved function, improved life

At Bella Vista Health Center, our occupational therapists are experienced, compassionate, and skilled at helping patients improve their ability to carry out daily living activities. If you or a loved one is looking for a skilled nursing facility that offers occupational therapy in San Diego, give us a call today. We also offer physical therapy, speech therapy, and a number of other services designed help residents live their best lives. 

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