What Does a Pediatric Occupational Therapist Do?

What does a pediatric occupational therapist do? We’ll explore their role in maintaining children’s health and wellness

What does a pediatric occupational therapist do? These healthcare professionals help children develop the skills they need to become functional and independent adults. Premature birth, physical impairment, injuries, and other issues can adversely affect a child’s ability to perform common tasks and progress through all stages of social and cognitive development. The longer it takes for a child to develop these critical skills, the harder it is for them to master them. Therefore, pediatric occupational therapists are critical to the smooth and effective development of children. So let’s explore their role in more detail. 

How are Pediatric Occupational Therapists Trained?

A pediatric occupational therapist typically holds a master’s degree from an accredited university and has passed a national licensure exam to practice in the field. Many graduate degree programs in pediatric occupational therapy take two years to complete. Furthermore, these programs incorporate crucial hands-on training as part of the degree curriculum. 

The National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) provides detailed information about the occupational therapy licensure exam, fees, and content. Furthermore, national licensure is just the initial step. Occupational therapists can also pursue voluntary certification. 

Why Would a Child Need Occupational Therapy?

Why would a child need occupational therapy? Let’s explore a few reasons

A young child’s first years contain new stimuli and experiences that drive their cognitive, social, and physical growth. The first 3 years of life are essential for brain development. So if a child is delayed or restricted in development, then therapeutic intervention is vital for their optimal growth.

Pediatric occupational therapy benefits several conditions such as Down syndrome and autism, and in cases with unclear diagnoses. Occupational therapy can help children with developmental delays or a known physical or mental condition associated with a high probability of delays. 

Medical intervention can improve a child’s cognitive, motor, sensory processing, communication, and play skills. Pediatric occupational therapy aims to reduce the potential for developmental delay, improve children’s achievement of key milestones, and assist families to fulfill the needs of their children.

Skills That a Pediatric Occupational Therapist Helps to Develop

Pediatric occupational therapy benefits a wide range of children: from premature infants to children with ADHD or with learning challenges. 

Some of the skills that pediatric occupational therapy addresses include:

  • Cognitive skills like remembering letters, numbers, shapes, and sequences. 
  • Fine motor skills that address manual dexterity, wrist and forearm control, and hand strength. 
  • Gross motor skills deal with balance and body coordination. 
  • Self-care skills such as dressing, bathing, and self-feeding. 
  • Social skills such as taking turns, listening, and following directions. 

Pediatric Occupational Therapy: Equipment and Methods

Pediatric occupational therapists use play as a part of their medical interventions

When pediatric occupational therapists work with children, they will often incorporate play as a part of their practice. This serves as a way to motivate them and reduce any anxiety or fears they may feel about therapy. 

This play also involves games, toys, puzzles, songs, and physical exercises. Pediatric occupational therapy serves to help children develop their cognitive and physical capabilities and build their self-esteem and confidence to complete tasks. 

Get the Occupational Therapy That You Need

What does a pediatric occupational therapist do? You now know the importance of these healthcare professionals for children’s holistic development. Should your child need assistance, you can speak to a physician about accessing valuable occupational therapy interventions as soon as possible. 

For the best in occupational therapy, we invite you to Moving With Hope. You have access to excellent occupational therapists and also other well-trained and effective healthcare professionals. We will consult with your medical team to create and deliver a treatment plan tailor-made for you. Contact us today so that we can help you achieve your health and wellness milestones.

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