Occupational Therapy

What is Occupational Therapy? 
Occupational Therapy is a health care profession which focuses on maintaining or improving a person’s level of independence in the areas of self-care, productivity and leisure.  In vocational rehabilitation, occupational therapists work with people who have been injured so that they may attain a level of function appropriate for a return to employment.  Occupational therapists also work with employers and employees to help prevent injury in the work place.  OT services can be beneficial to employers, insurance companies, LTD companies, lawyers, Worker’s Compensation Commission, and any other individual or group concerned with the health and safety of the worker.


The Occupational Therapist as an educator: 
Educational Services 
Energy Conservation 
Joint Protection 
Proper Body Mechanics 
Back Injury Prevention

The Occupational Therapist as an evaluator: 
Home Assessment 
ADLs and Modifications 
Home Safety 
Prescription of Adaptive Equipment

Work Assessment 
Job Site Analysis 
Work Station Ergonomic Review 
Formal Job Description & Task Analysis 
Cognitive Demands Analysis
Physical Demands Analysis
Work Site Modifications, using biomechanical and ergonomic principals 
Job Supervision & Coaching

What is ergonomics? 
Ergonomics is the study of fitting the work place to the worker.   A review of the heights, weights, lifts, pulls, and pushes is imperative.  Worker height, arm span, weight, range of motion, and functional strength and endurance need to be analyzed against information obtained from the work place to see if alterations to the work site can be accomplished in an economically feasible manner. 


  • Promotes functional and efficient job design.
  • Promotes productivity.
  • Promotes quality.
  • Decreases employee fatigue, errors, and absenteeism.
  • Decreases accidents and work related injuries.
  • Ultimately saves money.

North American Statistics:

  • Back pain is only second to the common cold as a cause of lost time in the workplace.
  • 80% of people will have back pain at some degree during their lives.
  • 50% of individual health is determined by lifestyle choices.
  • Workers in sedentary jobs have the same likelihood of experiencing back pain as those doing heavy labor.
  • Early intervention can help to avoid chronicity.

To educate participants as to the factors contributing to back/neck injury and how they can influence the risks associated with posture, fitness, flexibility and body mechanics in all activities of daily living at home and at the workplace.  Education will include: 

  • Anatomy of the spine.
  • Proper posture while sleeping, sitting or standing.
  • Body mechanics, including materials handling, office ergonomics, etc.
  • How to modify home and work environments to prevent injury and re-injury with specific focus on the employee’s job.
  • How to modify positions to reduce physical stress.
  • How to modify job duties to prevent injury.
  • General exercises to maintain and improve strength and flexibility.
  • Use of devices to correct postural alignment and reduce physical stress (eg. Obus forms, neck and back rolls).

Repetitive Strain Injury is a collective term for a range of tendon and muscle injuries caused by repeated action, constrained postured, or both. Tendonitis, Myositis, Epicondylitis, and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome are examples of RSI.

The purpose of RSI prevention service is to educate the client by providing information on:  
their condition, the cause, and remediation;  workplace modifications to prevent recurrence;  the early warning signs of RSI.  Education will include:

  • Information on the nature of RSI's and how to avoid them or minimize their impact.
  • Modifying behaviors which lead to RSI.
  • One on one instruction.
  • Informal discussion for sharing of experience and suggestions.
  • Printed educational material.
  • May be general in content of or tailored to specific groups of employees’ job demands and the environment of the workplace.

A Job Site Analysis is an analysis of the physical and environmental demands of a job performed at the work site.  This is a formal objective assessment of the physical demands which are needed to carry out a specific job such as lifting, carrying, and walking.  The Occupational Therapist will gather information and compare the individual's physical tolerances with the specific physical demands of the job.  It is then determined by the Occupational Therapist whether or not the employee can safely carry out the job demands.


  • To collect data required for goal setting in work hardening.
  • To compare an injured worker's abilities with his or her functional capacities to facilitate and expedite a return to work.
  • To assess equipment and environmental factors and recommend modifications to the work site to facilitate return to work.
  • To collect data about the job to match the worker to job options available through the collective agreement.


  • An on-site job interview with both the client and his or her employer to obtain pertinent information.
  • Observation of the work being performed.
  • Measurement of forces, loads, distances, and repetitions required.
  • Evaluation of equipment and tools used in regard to job demands.
  • Job site analysis report includes a description of the job components, an analysis of the physical demands of the job, and feasible recommendations for modifications to the work site.

A work station review is an assessment of an individual's work station to recommend modifications to the design of the work station, the job carried out at that work station, or the individual's method of work to improve the individual's ability to tolerate work demands.


  • Office ergonomic education.
  • On-site work station evaluation and interview/screening of worker.
  • Recommendations to change work station or method of performing tasks, or to control physical symptoms and a follow-up to ensure recommendations are effective.
  • A customized report will include identification of problematic areas and recommendations for change.