Occupational, Speech and Language Therapy

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Therapy is treatment intended to relieve or heal a condition. Occupational therapists help people overcome their physical, mental, or social problems. They teach people skills and help them live independent and satisfying lives.

Speech and language therapists identify, assess, and assist those suffering from communication disorders. Most of their of clients are children. However adults also seek assistance for problems caused by illness, psychological trauma, or a number of other reasons.

Education

NUI Galway, Trinity College, and UCC provide degrees in Occupational Therapy and in Speech & Language Therapy.

Occupational Therapy students take a variety of academic medical and social science subjects, including Psychology, Anatomy, Physiology, Neurophysiology, Group Work & Professional Skills, and Enabling Occupation. Speech & Language Therapy students take a similar combination of subjects, along with others such as Phonetics and Phonology, Linguistics, Social Policy and Psychology.

Both courses typically involve practical work placements in clinical settings, which form an important part of the students’ training.

The Work

Occupational therapists concentrate on the particular troubles or issues faced by an individual and then design a specific programme to assist and encourage the individual’s development. The overall aim is to teach skills that will lead to an increased level of independence and confidence.

For example, occupational therapists may work with stroke victims or people badly injured in traffic accidents, and help them take up a hobby or learn a new skill (such as painting or carpentry). Such activities allow patients to ‘re-learn’ the use of physical processes and movements, thus giving them a renewed sense of self-belief and facilitating their rehabilitation.

Speech & language therapists enable people with communication disorders to achieve their maximum potential to communicate. Therapists assess an individual’s situation and needs, come up with a diagnosis, and implement a therapeutic programme.

Developmental speech problems include aphasia, motor-speech disorders, cognitive impairment, and swallowing disorders. Some people may develop these problems after an accident or stressful event, while others may have had a disorder since birth.

Speech and language therapists can assist patients with difficulties understanding the spoken word. They can also help with disorders of articulation and fluency. They may also work with adults and children with learning disabilities to help them fulfil their communicative potential. Therapists also play a significant role in the management of clients with swallowing disorders.

Both occupational therapists and speech and language therapists can be involved in the planning and implementation of health promotion and education programmes.

Patience, understanding, and resourcefulness are all required to be a successful therapist. Excellent communication skills and an enquiring mind would be of great assistance, while an aptitude for science subjects would also be useful.

Did you know?

Approximately one-third of occupational therapists work with children, many of whom are in need of treatment because of handwriting difficulties.

Further Resources

Association of Occupational Therapists of Ireland

Irish Association of Speech and Language Therapists

 


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