Cerebral Palsy

How does Occupational Therapy help?


Occupational Therapy (OT) aims to help those whose health prevents them from doing activities that matter to them. Therapists in this field may, for example help a child to go to the toilet safely by themselves, change into pyjamas, or learn to communicate using an eye gaze computer. Here are some of the areas an OT might focus on strengthening:

  • Fine motor control
  • Bilateral movement
  • Upper body strength and stability
  • Crossing the midline
  • Visual Motor skills
  • Visual perception
  • Self-care
  • Crossing the midline

What to expect

Occupational Therapy works by breaking down the task into stages and then slowly and systematically finding step-by-step solutions to help someone work towards their goal. This might involve learning a new pattern of movement, or learning to use an assistive device or piece of equipment.

Even small changes can be very meaningful and progress can do a great deal to boost a child’s self-esteem and independence, as they get older.

NHS.co.uk offers a useful video on what to expect from an Occupational Therapist. 

Equipment used by OT’s:

  • Everyday household items (straws, sponges.)
  • Books
  • Adaptive scissors (with spring closures or grips for easier use)
  • Splints
  • Adaptations to clothing (zips, velcro, button hooks)
  • Toys to help with development of motor skills
  • Games and toys that help with motor and cognitive development.
  • Assistive devices
  • Pencil grips
  • Specialised feeding utensils
  • Seating and positioning equipment
  • Computer software and equipment
  • Household aids and equipment
  • Speech and communication aids
  • School chairs and tables
  • Toilet and bathing aids
  • Tablets

OT Activity Ideas

  • Fun 'n' Games is a website with free, downloadable ideas for activities aiming at getting improving bimanual skills in children with Hemiplegic CP. (Please note, this resource was developed for a research project and some toys may no longer be available but many of the ideas are useful.)
  • OTPlan was developed by an occupational therapist for occupational therapists and parents. This website provides a wide range of fun ideas to develop skills in a variety of areas.
  • One-Handed Ideas” booklet from Doncaster Community Integrated Partnership.

Finding a therapist

Occupational therapy is available through the NHS, and there are different ways to get a referral, or you can go privately by searching for an OT in your area. Or, you may choose an intensive therapy block of trans-disciplinary therapy like Bobath where the therapist will work alongside a physio or OT.

The Living Made Easy website can provide you with useful links to daily living aids typically recommended by OT’s.

What's in your area?

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