Occupational therapy enables people of all ages live life to its fullest by helping them promote health, prevent—or live better with—injury, illness, or disability. It is a practice deeply rooted in science and is evidence-based, meaning that the plan designed for each individual is supported by data, experience, and “best practices” that have been developed and proven over time.
“Occupational therapy is a lease to living a full life. It is about giving a person a second chance at doing the things that are at once meaningful and important to a person who is otherwise hindered by an injury, an illness or a disability. For some people, it can be as simple as keeping a good grip on a spoon during meals, or enabling a person to bathe and dress himself without help. Or it can be as complex as teaching the skill to ask for assistance, or to develop the skill to problem-solve, or to care for someone else.”
– Iris Luanne De La Calzada, MS, OTR/L
Occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants focus on “doing” whatever occupations or activities are meaningful to the individual. It is occupational therapy’s purpose to get beyond problems to the solutions that assure living life to its fullest. These solutions may be adaptations for how to do a task, changes to the surroundings, or helping individuals to alter their own behaviors. This is accordance to the profession’s ethos which is stated as follows.
“Time, place, circumstance open paths to occupations: We are pathfinders. Occupational therapy fosters dignity, competence and health: We enable occupation that heals. Occupational therapy is a personal engagement: We co-create daily lives. Caring and helping are vital to the work: We reach for hearts as well as hands. Effective artistry is both art and science: We are artists and scientists at once.”
– Suzanne M. Peloquin, Enhancing the Profession’s Image. OT Practice Magazine.
When working with an occupational therapy practitioner, strategies and modifications are customized for each individual to resolve problems, improve function, and support everyday living activities. The goal is to maximize potential. Through these therapeutic approaches, occupational therapy helps individuals design their lives, develop needed skills, adjust their environments (e,g., home, school, or work) and build health-promoting habits and routines that will allow them to thrive.
By taking the full picture into account—a person’s psychological, physical, emotional, and social makeup as well as their environment—occupational therapy assists clients to do the following:
- Achieve goals
- Function at the highest possible level
- Concentrate on what matters most to them (and probably not so much as worry about life insurance rate)
- Maintain or rebuild their independence
- Participate in daily activities that they need or want to do.
Founded in 1917, the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) represents the interests and concerns of more than 140,000 occupational therapists, assistants and students nationwide. The Association educates the public and advances the profession of occupational therapy by providing resources, setting standards including accreditations and serving as an advocate to improve health care. Based in Bethesda, Md., AOTA’s major programs and activities are directed toward promoting the professional development of its members and assuring consumer access to quality services so patients can maximize their individual potential. For more information, go to www.aota.org.
American Occupational Therapy Association. Sample Press Release for Public Awareness campaign for Occupational Therapy Month. Retrieved on April 14, 2010 from website: http://www.aota.org/Practitioners/Awareness/OT-Month/Awareness/Press-Release.aspx
Peloquin, S. (2010, April 5). Enhancing the profession’s image. OT Practice Magazine. Retrieved on April 14, 2010 from website: http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aota/otpractice_vol15issue6/index.php#/1/OnePage