April 27, 2021

What is Occupational Therapy?

In recognition of Occupational Therapy Month, Marguerita “Margo” Murray, lead occupational therapist at Mountainside Medical Center, explains the role of an occupational therapist.

Occupational therapists are focused on helping people fully engage in everyday life and activities. These daily activities – also called “occupations” – can sometimes be difficult to navigate for people who have been injured, fallen ill, or who have disabilities. This is where an occupational therapist comes in. These specialists work with individuals, communities, groups, or organizations to determine how a person can best function and participate in activities that are vital for health and wellness.

The Big Picture

Occupational therapists see the big picture while helping patients focus on the details of their care. “We use a holistic approach to care, which means we evaluate all the challenges our patients may be facing. For example, a person with an injured leg has physical needs, but they also will have emotional, cognitive, spiritual and social needs as well,” explains Margo. An occupational therapist evaluates each individual patient as a whole person.

Empowering You for Life

Occupational therapists, or OTs, are goal-oriented for their patients’ sake. Together, therapists and patients set goals and work as a team to reach them through the completion of functional activities that promote independence. OT is about helping a patient establish empowerment over oneself (physical, emotional and cognitive). That ability to gain further independence and participate in their life is critical to any person’s health and wellness. OTs want nothing more than to help people live well, with purpose, function and fulfillment.

We Go Where There Is Need

Occupational therapists work with individuals of all ages and with a wide range of needs and abilities. For example, patients who have had a stroke often benefit from working with an OT to learn how to complete self-care activities that are suddenly more difficult for them. Therapists help these patients in a variety of ways, including addressing physical weakness, potential memory loss, and difficulty with communication. Such cognitive goals are also often set by patients with mental illness, who learn how to live independently within their communities.

Therapists also regularly work with children while in the classroom. Some kids need extra help developing skills to do schoolwork and interact with their peers.

Specialized Care, Right Here

The occupational therapy staff at Mountainside Medical Center hold additional specialties in various areas. These include Certified Aging-in-Place Certifications, Hand Therapy Certifications, LSVT Big (for individuals with Parkinson’s disease).

These certifications recognize our devotion to promoting accessibility, comfort, and safety in every individual’s home. Our team supports our patients every step of the way, and we are constantly engaged in learning more specialties and the latest techniques to provide the very best outcomes.

“We engage each patient in meaningful tasks in order to return our patients to a sense of normalcy in their lives,” says Margo.  “We work every day to help our patients achieve independence and reach the goals they set. We believe that when our patients are stronger in all aspects of their lives, we are stronger as a community too. It is our honor to offer this specialized, holistic, and supportive care here at Mountainside.”


At Mountainside Medical Center, occupational therapists provide treatment for patients of all ages. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, visit mountainsidehosp.com/services/rehabilitation-services/occupational-therapy or call 973-429-6011.


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