Many children with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy injuries can have limitations in physical ability or cognition that can impact their ability to complete the activities of daily living, such as hygiene, grooming, dressing, and similar activities, which allow them to live more independently. Occupational therapists seek to help individuals with disabilities regain or learn skills related to daily living, which often includes training the upper extremities for the development of fine motor coordination. In the case of children, occupational therapy refers to interventions that help them play, and learn about/carry out processes that form the basis of their growth and development. The ‘Occupation’ in occupational therapy for children relates to the skills needed for play, learning and social development.
Occupational therapy is often confused with physical therapy, but they are not the same thing. Occupational therapy focuses on fine motor skills, visual-perception skills, cognition and sensory processing deficits; physical therapy focuses specifically on strength, flexibility, endurance and gross motor skills. Usually, the two are done in conjunction with one another.
In some instances, occupational therapy is closely tied to vocational training and pre-employment education, as successes in occupation therapy make success in a workplace environment more likely.