Kids need occupational therapy, too

Staff writer

Maggie Powers is nervous and excited to begin working next month at Greenbush Education Center in Topeka.

It is the Marion High School graduate’s first job as an occupational therapist after receiving a master’s degree from the University of Kansas. She is anxious about the unknown, but has a feeling she will ease into her new position once she begins working with clients.

Powers did field work for Lakemary Toddler Services, Paola, doing exactly what she will do with Greenbush. She worked with toddlers diagnosed with cerebral palsy and Down syndrome.

Occupational therapists work to adapt clients’ lives to perform necessary tasks.

“When a person can’t do what they want,” Powers said.

While physical therapy may improve range of motion, occupational therapy often involves adapting a person’s environment. Powers gave the example of cooking, changing the height of counters for someone who can no longer stand.

With toddlers, the clients cannot give suggestions. The parents become the experts on how to make life easier. The therapist’s primary mode of study is observation, trying to pick up when a child experiences discomfort.

“A child’s primary occupation is play. We use toys as a motivator,” Powers said. “It’s a lot of repetitive process.”

Powers plans to study other types of occupational therapy through volunteer work. Geriatric care is another area of interest.

 

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