WHAT is Occupational Therapy?
Occupational therapy is the "art and science of enabling engagement in everyday living, through occupation..." (Townsend & Polatajko, 2007, p. 372). Occupational therapist are health care providers who work with individuals who have physical, mental, emotional, and development issues. Occupational therapists help individuals regain, develop, and/ or build new skills that they have lost or sometimes never had. This is relevant to those diagnosed with agnosia because these individuals may have to learn how to cope with their agnosia, especially if a full recovery of sensory functioning is not possible. Please play video to the left for more details on what occupational therapy is!
Any form of agnosia is likely to hinder an individual's engagement in their day to day activities. Occupational performance issues vary depending on the type of agnosia experienced. Generally, however, the inability to recognize various stimuli can cause issues relating to the person, their occupation, and environment (using the outline of the Canadian Model of Occupational Performance and Engagement). In regards to an individual's occupation, recognition deficits can lead to occupational performance issues with self-care, productivity, and leisure. For self-care, individuals may need help with eating because they cannot recognize a spoon and fork and as a result use a knife to eat instead (e.g., using a knife to eat a bowl of soup). Grooming can also be difficult if the individual cannot recognize a comb and the purpose of a comb.
Others may need to leave their employment because they are unable to recognize their work setting or carry out previously familiar productivity tasks. There can be occupational performance issues with schooling because of an inability to recognize environmental sounds, such as a school bell, for individuals with nonverbal auditory agnosia. In addition, those with prosopagnosia can have difficulties with recognizing faces of teachers and fellow students, which can lead to hindering of social relationships. A decrease in leisure pursuits may also occur because recognition deficits can lead to difficulty in sustaining participation in leisure activities and as a result decrease engagement in previous enjoyed activities. It is important to note that since memory skills are generally intact for individuals with agnosia, these individuals can still navigate their way around even though they are unable to recognize all the objects or sounds they encounter.