What is Occupational Therapy???

April 2, 2010 at 7:03 am Leave a comment

I cannot tell you how many times over my fifteen year career I have heard, ‘what is Occupational Therapy?…..can you get me a job?’.  I love being an Occupational Therapist (OT) and wanted to share with you a little about what I do, to commemorate April being Occupational Therapy Month.

According to the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), Occupational Therapy is “a science-driven, evidence-based profession that enables people of all ages to live life to its fullest by helping them promote health and prevent—or live better with—illness, injury or disability.”  We are holistic thinkers, assessing strengths and weaknesses to determine how these abilities will impact functional performance of a task in a given environment.  The task could be as basic as brushing your teeth, or feeding yourself.  Or, the task could be returning to work, driving, or being able to get in/out and around your house and the community.  OT looks at all the activities of daily living (ADLs) that are done throughout the day, that many times before illness, injury, or disability are taken for granted.

Throughout my career as an OT I have experienced working both the spectrum of ages (3 to 103) as well as the spectrum of care, from acute care, critical care and medical-surgical units, to inpatient rehabilitation, to outpatient, school-based and community re-entry programs.  I have always enjoyed the versatility of the OT field, as it affords a range of work settings to choose from and a lot of flexibility throughout a career. 

A common theme throughout my career, regardless of which setting I was working in, was a passion for accessibility and assistive technology.  I started my career on an inpatient spinal cord injury unit and immediately fell in love with all of the gadgets!  From universal cuffs to hold forks, spoons or toothbrushes, to the environmental control units (ECUs) and power wheelchairs to allow for independent mobility and control of just about anything in your home.  Providing this service as an OT, along with the role to complete the client’s home access evaluation to maximize accessibility and independence post discharge home, sealed my interest in this specialty right from the beginning!

To all my fellow OTs, happy OT month!  To everyone else, spread the word about the role of Occupational Therapy!

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Entry filed under: occupational therapy. Tags: , , , , , .

Honk for gas station accessibility How accessible is your environment???

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