Occupational Therapy: The Profession that Focuses on Life Skills
For millions of people, the service of occupational therapy is a lifeline. People of all ages receive it to help them participate in the activities of their daily life. Sometimes people need occupational therapy to do things we take for granted, like getting dressed, being productive at school or work, eating unassisted, even socializing.
Occupational therapy doesn't just treat medical conditions, it helps people stay engaged in the activities that give them pleasure or a sense of purpose, despite challenges.
Occupational therapists do this by helping people surmount their disabilities or medical conditions to do everyday things. The nature of the therapy depends on the individual and their environment; occupational therapists consider the whole person when developing a therapy plan. Occupational therapists collaborate with physicians and other professionals to ensure a comprehensive approach.
Children, for instance, sometimes have behavioral or developmental problems that limit their educational progress. Lawmakers believe occupational therapy is so important to the well-being of children, federal law mandates that schools must offer occupational therapy to children who need it.
Occupational therapy is "outcome-oriented," which means therapists help clients work toward achievable performance goals.
In rehabilitation clinics or hospitals, occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants help adults learn or regain skills that allow them to do meaningful things like working, driving, shopping, or even preparing a meal. All types of people need this kind of help everyday, from a worker injured on the job to a grandparent recovering from surgery or a stroke.
Occupational therapy helps avoid health problems, and makes it easier to live with them.
Consider our growing senior population: Healthier people are living longer lives. Occupational therapy research proves that keeping people active and healthy as they age will improve their quality of life as well as lower their health care costs. That is why there are occupational therapy programs focusing on wellness and prevention—to help seniors stay healthier and remain active in their homes and communities. Trained therapists can make homes safer for people with reduced mobility and failing vision. Occupational therapists can also teach seniors new driving techniques that will keep them behind the wheel longer, as safe drivers.
Occupational therapy addresses one of the most important aspects of rehabilitation and recovery—the return to a normal life.
Occupational therapy has its roots, a century ago, in helping war veterans return to life at home. These days, occupational therapists work in rehabilitation hospitals and on the front lines of combat. Some occupational therapy programs help soldiers recognize and relieve stress. In addition, occupational therapy helps soldiers learn to care for themselves after an injury, including helping them use artificial limbs.
In recognition of all the ways occupational therapy contributes to society's well-being, April has been designated as Occupational Therapy Month.
To find out more about occupational therapy and how it might help you, visit the ABC Therapeutics website.