top of page
  • Writer's pictureJB

Holistic Approach to Occupational Therapy

Updated: Sep 8, 2020

In the previous blog, I talked about what exactly Occupational Therapy is and what is it that Occupational Therapists do. Here I delve a bit deeper into some of the areas we OTs work on, primarily focusing on Rehabilitation, which encompasses a holistic approach to any specific condition.

Functional Rehabilitation - Physical

Gross motor skills

These are the skills that require whole body movements and use of the large muscles of the body that are useful in functional activities, for e.g. ability to turn and sit up in bed, to stand and walk till the bathroom and get inside the tub, to run, jump, hop, play outdoor games and activities etc.

Fine motor skills

Fine movements of hands, fingers and toes, that are needed in daily functional activities like cutting, writing, buttoning, typing, manipulating the computer mouse or stylus, etc.

Strength and Endurance

Ability of a person to carry out any task needed in their day to day activities with maximum amount of strength and also be able to sustain the activity for specific amount of time without getting fatigued.


Ability to maintain the balance of the body while sitting at the table, standing, getting into the tub, walking, crossing a small hurdle on the way, stepping onto a kerb, walking on an uneven surface, etc.


Co-ordination means when different body parts work in a synchronized or effective way to produce the desired action or result. Areas covered under this are bilateral motor co-ordination, eye hand co-ordination, motor control of a muscle etc. For example, ability to catch and throw a ball or to write or draw are some of the activities that can be addressed.

Conditions: Cerebral Palsy, Nerve Palsy, Stroke, Mobility & Falls, Spondylitis, Sciatica, Arthritis, DMD, DCD, Spinal Injury etc.

Neurological Rehabilitation - Mental

Cognitive and Executive Functioning skills

Cognitive skills in simple words can be defined as the ability of brain to collect all the information coming from the different senses like vision, smell, taste, sound, touch, change in body position, senses from internal organs and collect all that information and transform into the world that we experience.

Whereas executive functioning are the higher and complex cognitive skills which interprets, organizes, stores all this information so that we can interact with the environment and use all this information as and when needed. For e.g. long term memory, short term memory, self-control, selective attention, being flexible in our thinking, speed of understanding all of the information that we are getting, planning a task, problem solving, controlling our emotions, creativity etc.

Visual Motor and Visual Perceptual Skills

Visual perception is the ability of the brain to make sense of what the eyes see and Visual motor skill is the ability to interpret visual information and respond with a motor action e.g. catching a ball, Confusion in distinguishing between left and right, Problems remembering the alphabet or other sequences etc.

Sensory Processing skills

It refers to the ability of our nervous system to receive all of the sensory stimuli from the environment, process and organize it in the brain so that we can respond to them in an appropriate manner. Some examples of sensory processing disorder are being sensitive to sound, aversion to touch, high tolerance for pain, overly aggressive, spinning continuously etc.

Conditions: Brain Injury, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Bells Palsy, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Mental Retardation, Asperger Syndrome, Developmental Delay etc.

Emotional Rehabilitation – Emotions and Behavior

Behavioral modulation

A therapeutic approach in shaping a particular undesirable behavior or a tantrum and replace it with desirable change by using either positive or negative reinforcement e.g. temper tantrums, aggressive behavior like hitting, pushing others, spitting, etc.


Self-regulation is the ability to control and regulate one’s thoughts, emotions, behavior, energy-level, sensory inputs from the environment in such a way that are acceptable and that results in learning, self-growth, bonding and well-being. Example of impaired self-regulation are over attachment to inanimate objects like toys, piece of cloth etc. crying or excessive emotional outburst when routine changes or with any new experience, excessive rocking, touching things/toys, mouthing, arranging toys in a line etc.

Manage Stress

Inability to handle strong emotional feeling or physical tension experienced due to stressful life situations can prove detrimental to one's function. An occupational therapist can work with you to identify the trigger points of your stress and help you redirect your energy, implement constructive strategies to manage and overcome stress; so you can lead a happy and peaceful life.

Conditions: ADHD, ADD, Learning Disability, Anxiety, Depression, PTSD etc

Social and Environmental Rehabilitation

Social skills

These are set of skills that help us to interact and communicate with others and form social bonds. They consist of verbal and non-verbal skills like facial expressions, bodily gestures, body language, eye contact, etc. These skills help us to learn to behave appropriately in any social situation, make new friends, form bonds, enjoy social gathering etc.

Play skills

Ability to play any game, activity or with toys appropriately in a meaningful way. Ability to plan, sequence play activities, problem solving, and generalizing skills from one activity to another.

Environmental Skills

An occupational therapist can help you to transition from your home to school, work, office, community or social environment after an injury or an illness. We use assistive technology, adaptive equipment, ergonomic assessment and changes, Job demands analysis and modification of your work place so that you can adapt to your work environment or any surroundings resulting in good posture, physical well-being, efficiency at task, productivity and satisfaction at any work place.

Conditions: Phobias, Anxiety, Depression, Developmental Delay etc.

Self Help Skills

Activities of Daily Living

To be independent in activities of daily living like feeding, dressing, bathing, grooming, toileting etc.

Picky Eating

An occupational therapist works with children or adults and their families who are picky eaters or fussy about food and help them to integrate more variety of foods in their diet and get adequate nutrition required by the body.

Conditions: Any Functional or Neurological impairment.

These are some of the conditions I work on and if you would like to discuss more about any of these conditions or have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page