Occupational Therapy/ Ergotherapy

Whenever someone asks me, “What are you studying?” and I tell him or her Occupational Therapy I always get a confused look from them. Although it is a very common profession, Occupational therapy is not something a lot of people are very familiar with. They are more familiar with Physical therapy so I always like to tell them, “A physical therapist will get you from point A to point B, while the occupational therapist will do everything in between, so for example a physical therapist will help you be able to get from your bedroom to your bathroom, but the occupational therapist will help you get in and out of bed safely, get dressed/undressed, and help you with your self care needs.” Basically Occupational therapy is a profession that enables people to do the things in their life that give meaning to them that they are not able to do because of an injury, disability, or other condition. Occupational Therapists work with people of all ages and in different types of settings to achieve their goals, wants, and needs in life. An occupational therapist can help a child meet his or her milestones, help someone who has been in accident get back to doing things that are important to them, or help someone become more independent in their daily activities. You can find an occupational therapist in school, hospital, clinic, or community setting. I personally want to work in a school setting, where I would work with students who have development delays, autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and many other conditions, either one on one or in groups to help them through their struggles in order to strive in school.

I had a great opportunity to do an internship at an occupational therapy outpatient clinic for a few months and one of the patients that really stood out to me was a 4 year old girl who was non verbal and had weak muscles due to undiagnosed condition. Her weak muscles prevented her from being able to isolate her fingers. Sign language is a means of communication for someone who is nonverbal, but you have to be able to isolate your fingers to use sign language. So this 4-year-old girl had no means of communicating with her family or anyone else. When I would see this little girl, who always had a smile on her face, I couldn’t help but wonder what was going through her mind so I can not even imagine how her mother must feel not being able to communicate with her own daughter. The occupational therapist and I would work on finger isolation activities with her in order to help her gain the ability to use sign language. We were helping a little girl be able to communicate with her mom and the world, and nothing was more rewarding than that to me. Now I am doing an internship at an adult day care program. It is like a school setting, where adults between the ages of 20 and above who have severe disabilities that prevent them for being able to work or live on their own come too for the day. They are very low functioning so they come to this day care program in order to receive both mental and social stimulation as well as work on educational and enjoyable activities in order to maintain or improve their level of independence. I spend the day doing exercises and fun activities with them.

Aside from my passion for working with children and helping others I choose this profession because of another very important reason. The position of a person with a disability is great with Allah and the reward for the person who aids a person with a disability is also great. The prophet (SAW) said, “You are given sustenance and victory for the virtue of those who are weak amongst you (Abu Dawud).” Elhamdulillah, this profession gives me the wonderful opportunity to help someone who is need of help. Also just think about the reward you get for caring for an individual who has a serious disability and because of their condition the pen has been lifted for them. They are sinless and guaranteed entrance into Jannah. So basically Allah (SWT) has given us these people of Jannah to care for. I hope to become a good occupational therapist one day and help people with the struggles they face in life, but more importantly to do this for the sake of Allah. May Allah help all the Muslim students and workers in their educational and career path to gain good rewards and strive for the sake of Allah.

Selin Engec, Occupational Therapist

This is just a short video that explains occupational therapy.