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Many techniques are used to help people reach their fullest functional capacity. Each person’s treatment is based on his or her abilities, interests, educational and occupational background.

Occupational therapy can range from teaching someone with swallowing difficulty how to eat and drink safely to showing someone how to use special tools to put on shoes and socks, close zippers, and button shirts and blouses, from showing someone in a wheelchair how to cook and do housekeeping from a seated position, to advising how to make structural alterations in a home that would help accommodate a disability, and from teaching someone who has lost an arm or leg how to drive a specially equipped automobile to helping someone with cerebral palsy – a disorder affecting muscle control – to learn to use a computer, to communicate and operate household equipment.

Occupational therapists work with people with mental and emotional problems – such as depression, anxiety, or schizophrenia – to help them plan their activities in order to function more effectively in everyday life. Occupational therapy is also widely used with children with physical and mental disabilities ranging from cerebral palsy to autism and fatal alcohol syndrome.