Ergotherapy focuses on the physical body. It comes in focus as an option whenever physical restraints start to seriously hinder the normal everyday functioning in life. That’s why ergotherapy is mostly seen in elderly care, home care, and in geriatrics. The purpose of ergotherapy is to support the patient to such a degree that some degree of self-reliance is achieved, or the rehabilitation after a severe accident.
The ergotherapist usually sets a short-term goal and a long-term goal. The short-term goal focus on what’s minimally needed for a recovery (based on sufficient self-reliance), so it becomes feasible to shift the attention to the long-term goal. Usually, mechanic aids such as wheelchairs, gripping brackets, walkers and special chairs are involved, as are residential adjustments such as level thresholds/doorsteps. However, ergotherapy can also include medical fysio fitness or other movement-related training.
The ergotherapist usually formulates the long-term goal in terms of what is reasonably expected to be feasible to achieve a certain degree of enduring self-reliance. What is feasible can vary from complete rehabilitation to the self-controlled movement in a wheelchair for a limited distance. It all depends on the severity of the bodily condition.
Ergotherapy comes with a reasonably extensive anamnesis (analysis) and diagnosis. As there are so many options to work towards the short-term and long-term goals, it is important to get a clear picture of the symptoms, the desire of the patient, and what can reasonably be expected.
Ergotherapy moves beyond analyzing, collecting and selecting physical aids to stimulate bodily movement and/or self-reliance. Many ergotherapists work on physical rehabilitation, but in the mental healthcare, many ergotherapists can be found as well. In the Cognitive Rehabilitation therapy (in the case of brain damage), you’ll find ergotherapists, as well as in psychiatric institutions.