What is Occupational Therapy?
Occupational Therapy (OT) helps people of all ages who have physical, mental or social problems as a result of accident, illness or aging, to do the things they want to do. These could be daily activities that many of us take for granted, from grocery shopping or brushing your teeth, to more complex activities such as caring for children, being able to work, or maintaining a healthy social life.
Occupational Therapy in Lao PDR and at the CMR
While there are graduate programmes for training Occupational Therapists in Thailand, Singapore and other countries in the region, there is currently no OT graduate programme in Lao PDR. The CMR acknowledges that OT is an important component of rehabilitation for persons with disabilities and is working with COPE to support an OT training programme. An expatriate OT mentor is working to help build the capacity of 5 CMR staff so that they can be competent in providing OT assessment and intervention and expanding support to the provincial rehabilitation centres. The 5 staff are trained physiotherapists who are enthusiastic to learn about OT and develop their clinical skills.
The trainees will work closely with the OT mentor in clinics, receive regular supervision and attend training courses so they increase their knowledge and practical skills. Training will cover a wide range of issues with some examples including vocational rehabilitation, provision of assistive devices made from local materials, hand therapy and upper limb orthoses, and play as a therapeutic tool. OT clinic areas will be equipped with new resources and equipment provision will focus on producing equipment using local materials. The OT programme will work closely with the physiotherapy and prosthetic and orthotic services to enable an effective team approach to rehabilitation.
Once the team of trainees have developed a strong foundation of OT knowledge and skills the OT training programme will evolve to start to train more staff in the provincial rehabilitation centres.