Informative Facts about Occupational Therapy

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Occupational therapy is designed to help people live better lives, usually through training them to do the activities of daily living that they have to relearn after an injury or illness. This sounds simple, but for one person it could be learning to brush their teeth after a stroke, while another needs to relearn to type so they can get back to work. While there are numerous amounts of adaptive equipment available to help people, the occupational therapist has to solve the puzzle of which equipment will help their patient the most, even if they have to adapt the equipment in some way.

Fact 1: Occupational Therapy is one of the fastest growing careers because young children and older adults are the most frequent users of OT, but since 2007 occupational therapists have needed a master’s degree to work. The college must be accredited and the graduate will have to be licensed before they can begin to work.

Fact 2: Occupational therapy takes place in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, skilled nursing and assisted living facilities, mental health clinics and schools. Schoolchildren are most likely to be sent to occupational therapists for handwriting problems.

Fact 3: Occupation therapy came about from the early mental health reforms of the 20th century. It was theorized and proved that patients with ‘˜purposeful occupations’ were more likely to recover and be able to reintegrate with society. World War I veterans would also show the usefulness of this career, as it helped them integrate into civilian life. The American Occupational Therapy Association was founded a short time later, in 1917, to bring standards of care and scientific research to the new field.

Fact 4: Besides being strong enough to help people move, an occupational therapist also needs good computer and communication skills. Many occupational therapists have to modify or design adaptive equipment for the people they work with, as each person will have unique needs.

Fact 5: Occupational therapist are state licensed and monitored, so an individual must make sure their qualifications are enough for another state before deciding to move. Occupational therapists are recommended to carry malpractice insurance, as are most members of the health care profession.

Fact 6: Occupational therapists also have a role in acute care situations, where people are brought after a sudden injury. Once the person’s life has been saved, the occupational therapist can recommend splints or positioning devices to limit bed sores, protect skin integrity, and make sure it is safe for the patient to sit up, eat and swallow.  

Fact 7: Occupational therapists do not just deal with the person in need of recovery. Often, they must instruct the family and caregivers of the patient in how to best care for the patient, including safe transference from bed to chair, how to keep mobility from diminishing, checking the skin for breaks and rashes, and assisting with range-of-motion exercises.  

Fact 8: Autistic patients undergo sensory integration with occupational therapists. Sensory integration relates to how the brain process all the information from the five senses, something that happens automatically in people without autism. This therapy is retraining the brain to handle the overwhelming stimuli it receives.

Fact 9: Occupational therapists are more holistic in their approach then doctors, needing to understand how the body works instead of dealing with one symptom at a time.  

Fact 10: April is Occupational Therapy Month.

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