Many people may think an occupational therapist performs physical therapy only for people who have been injured in their workplaces. While that may have been true when the specialty began, today’s OT worker may as easily work with disabled children in a school or help senior citizens maintain their physical skills so they can live independently for as long as possible.
During April, when National Occupational Therapy Month is observed, the American Occupational Therapy Association tries to educate the public about the broader role that OT plays in the lives of people who need therapy to regain physical and cognitive capabilities.
According to the AOTA, “occupations” are defined by OT workers as everyday activities that can be used therapeutically to develop patients’ skills. That may indeed be in the workplace, but may also be any setting where an individual needs help to regain strength after illnesses or injuries or to overcome chronic pain.
The process of therapy begins with a patient evaluation, followed by a customized treatment plan. Often, that includes evaluating the patient’s home or work setting to see if adaptive equipment is required and how to fit the environment to meet the needs of the individual rather than the other way around.
In disability rehabilitation, OT workers provide therapy to people who have had a stroke, spinal cord injury, hip or knee replacements and job-related injuries. For those who suffer from chronic pain, OT can help a person learn how to manage their daily activities with coping skills.
Occupational therapists treat their patients holistically by addressing all their needs to get back to normal or near-normal activities. That includes adopting a healthy lifestyle, including eating a diet and using products, such as Glucosamine Cream from Dr. Newton’s Naturals, that promotes healing and pain relief.