The aim of occupational therapy in children with spina bifida is to help the child be able to do everyday activities and to achieve a degree of independence in this. The importance of this is hard to understate. The less a child feels like they are burden to everyone else, the more likely they are to live normal and healthy lives even with their condition.
Occupational therapy in the school
In this phase of occupational therapy, the specialist will be training the child on basic functions such as dressing, going to the toilet, bathing and preparing for school. In all likelihood, the specialist will visit the child’s school to ensure that the school has the facilities that are needed for the child’s comfortable stay and schooling. The specialist will also talk to the teachers and school management to ensure that they are aware of the child’s special needs and take them into account when dealing with the child.
All these help make the child comfortable, independent and live as normal a life as possible while in school. Doing this also removes possible stigma and other negative associations that may traumatize the child and lead him or her to shun school. At this stage and later, occupational therapy will often be augmented with other therapies to help the child manage other elements of the disorder. These therapies include speech therapy, physiotherapy among others. Management may also include home modification that may be needed to help the child live comfortably at home.
Occupational therapy in adolescence
As the child grows older, his or her needs change and this means that occupational therapy must change to reflect this reality. As the child moves into high school, the occupational therapist will do an assessment of the school and also ensure that the school management and teachers are aware of the child’s condition. As the adolescent child will increasingly want to be independent, the occupational therapist will seek to teach the child how to drive, go out with friends and generally live as normal a life as possible.
Role of occupational therapy in adulthood
If occupational therapy has been done consistently and professionally, the child should transition to a fairly independent adult, capable of a reasonable degree of independence. The child should also have transitioned into adult hood with strong sense of self-confidence and self-esteem. It is important however that care and management continue into adult hood. For example, adults with spina bifida tend to be plagued with obesity as the condition reduces movement and thus increases the propensity to live a sedentary lifestyle.
It is important then that the adult living with spina bifida and his or her caretakers are properly trained on nutritional requirements and ensure that he or she gets a balanced diet. There are also various exercises that are suitable for adults living with spina bifida. In all these, advice on care and management of spina bifida can be provided by centres providing spina bifida treatment in Toronto.
Occupational therapy for children with spina bifida is a lifelong process that aims to minimize the effects of the disorder and ensure that a child lives a normal and functional life. While there will always be certain aspects of the child’s life that will never be normal, occupational therapy for a child with spina bifida can help ensure that the child grows up with a fair degree of independence. This in turn leads to self-confidence and a productive life. Of course the reverse is true as well. A child who misses out on occupational therapy is likely to face numerous barriers in life. This in turn will make it extremely difficult for any care and management program that they may be undergoing to work.