Kenyans have been urged to recognize the benefits of occupational therapy and seek professional services to help them with behavioural/ developmental health challenges to enable them live an independent life.
An Occupational Therapist at Murang’a level five hospital Rebecca Kimanzi observes that occasional therapy is a client centered health profession concerned with promoting health and well-being of patients through enabling occupation.
In Kenya 4.6 percent of the population live with some form of disability and the practice of occupational therapy becomes very crucial in easing the impact of disability.
According to Kimanzi, in Murang’a County, approximately 3000 clients have accessed occupational therapy services in the last three months at the level five hospital.
“The county population is Murang’a County is about 1.05 million people and 4.6 percent have disabilities that require occupational therapy interventions it means out of an estimated 48605 clients only 6 percent have received occupational therapy services” observed the therapist
“The primary goal of occupational therapy is to enable people to participate in their day to day activities independently,” Kimanzi said, adding that the practice treats patients who have injuries, illnesses or disabilities through the therapeutic use of everyday activities.
She divulged that occupational therapists formulate necessary interventions, advocate and promote health education in areas of disability, mental health illnesses, substance abuse disorders and other behavioral health needs.
She urged parents whose children were having delayed milestones or those patients who had any form of physical dysfunctions or any form of mental health disorders to visit occupational therapists promptly for assessment and treatment.
“Occupational therapist achieve this outcome by working with people and communities to enhance their ability to engage in the occupations they want to, need to, or are expected to do, or by modifying the occupation or the environment to better support their occupational engagement,” Kimanzi said.
Kimanzi noted that although every April is an occupational therapy awareness month and it is used to create awareness in the society, more needs to be done so that more people could embrace and seek the services and the support that the therapists can give to the patients.
According to Kimanzi, some of the challenges that the department faces include shortage of staff in the health care facilities, lack of therapeutic equipment and lack of resources to carry-out outreach programs and create awareness of occupational therapy services.
“We only have 8 occupational therapists in the county and it would really help us serve more patients if we had more staff,” she said.
“I would like to urge the county government to prioritize issues of occupational health so that we are able to offer specialized healthcare services,” she added.
She however affirmed that as a department, they continue offering quality, accessible and affordable occupational therapy services to the people in need noting that their services help a lot of people live productive lives and reduce dependency on caregivers.
By Anita Omwenga and Purity Mugo