Occupational Therapy Defined
While the name at first may suggest something along the lines of career counseling, it’s true meaning is a much broader, more dynamic, more inclusive in application. Using the original definition of occupation as an activity, an Occupational Therapist is someone who helps people with the activities of daily living. While these activities may include career-related activities, they also include a host of others. OT is in many ways similar to physical therapy, only PT is focused on regaining mobility in the body part, whereas OT focuses on helping you use your body part in daily functioning.
History of OT Profession
If you are curious about the history of OT, this video is an interesting one put out by some OT students. It’s a bit tongue-in-cheek at times, but way more interesting than reading a long boring synopsis of the roots to this noble profession.
Who can benefit from OT services?
Anyone who is not functioning at the level they want to be functioning could benefit from Occupational Therapy. This might include children with developmental delays or specific handicaps, children needing help with handwriting, people recovering from accidents, people with sensory problems such as sensitivity to sounds, older adults who want to be more mobile and independent, and the list goes on! In my personal opinion, I believe everyone could benefit in some way from OT.
The following video is published by the American Occupational Therapy Association to highlight the broad dynamics of the profession and the many ways OT can be used to serve their clients.
Common Areas of Practice for OT Practitioners
Occupational Therapists and Occupational Therapy Assistants can work in a variety of settings. The most common include:
- Hospitals (following sickness, surgery, or traumatic injury)
- Nursing homes (both long term care and short term care)
- Outpatient clinics (which typically focus on either serving children or adult caseloads, more rarely with a good mix of both)
- Home health (servicing those in the community who are unable to easily manage community mobility to obtain therapy services at an outpatient facility)
- Industrial (some OTs work with corporations to address workplace concerns such as ergonomic needs of the employee, reducing risk of on the job injury in highly repetitive physical environments like those of factory work, and so on)
- Mental Health
- Return to Work following an on-the-job injury
Unique Strengths of an OT Practitioner
OTs are highly trained in delivering individualized and holistic care to each individual they treat. They consider the goals and objectives of each individual, their circumstances and current limitations, as well as their unique preferences for engagement in activities to devise an effective intervention plan. OTs understand how to do what is called “activity analysis” to break down the components of an activity into various parts, allowing us to more effectively intervene when our clients are unable to participate fully or when the activity is simply not motivating enough to participate in for the client. We all tend to be creative and ready to adapt our approach when it doesn’t appear to be working as planned. Overall, we tend to care very deeply about meeting the goals of our clients and helping them to live their best life possible.