Occupational Therapy

Interim HealthCare Blogs
Posted: 1/19/2017 10:42 AM by Interim HealthCare
When a person experiences serious illness or injury and spends a long time being a “patient”, he may lose the ability to perform self-care tasks on his own, and may become dependent on others. Typically, in America, we tend to define ourselves by our occupation - what we do. When we are no longer able to perform the tasks that used to define us, there is impact on self-esteem and healing. The Occupational Therapist assesses a patient’s abilities and makes a plan to assist him to regain the most independent function possible, given the patients mental and physical state.

The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) was founded in 1917 and the  profession of Occupational Therapy was officially named in 1920.

The emergence of occupational therapy challenged the views of mainstream scientific medicine. Instead of focusing on purely physical etiologies, occupational therapists argued that a complex combination of social, economic, and biological reasons cause dysfunction. Principles and techniques were borrowed from many disciplines—including but not limited to nursingpsychiatryrehabilitationself-helporthopedics, and social work—to enrich the profession's scope. Between 1900 and 1930, the founders defined the realm of practice and developed supporting theories. By the early 1930s, AOTA had established educational guidelines and accreditation procedures.

The American Occupational Therapy Association's practice framework identifies the following areas of occupation:

Activities of daily living (ADLs)
  • Bathing, showering
  • Toileting and toilet hygiene
  • Dressing
  • Swallowing/eating
  • Feeding
  • Functional mobility/transfers
  • Personal device care
  • Personal hygiene and grooming
  • Sexual activity
  • Instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs)
    • Care of others
    • Care of pets
    • Child rearing
    • Communication management
    • Driving and community mobility
    • Financial management
    • Health management and maintenance
    • Home establishment and managements
    • Meal preparation and cleanup
    • Religious and spiritual activities and expression
    • Safety and emergency maintenance
    • Shopping
  • Rest and sleep
    • Rest
    • Sleep preparation
    • Sleep participation
  • Education
  • Work
    • Employment interests and pursuits
    • Employment seeking and acquisition
    • Job performance
    • Retirement preparation and adjustment
    • Volunteer exploration
    • Volunteer participation
  • Play
    • Play exploration
    • Play participation
  • Leisure
    • Leisure exploration
    • Leisure participation
  • Social participation
    • Community
    • Family
    • Peer, friend
Central to the philosophy of occupational therapy is the concept of occupational performance. In considering occupational performance, the therapist must consider the many factors that comprise overall performance. This highlights the importance of satisfactions in one's occupations, broadening the aim of occupational therapy beyond the mere completion of tasks to the holistic achievement of personal well-being.

In recent times, occupational therapy practitioners have challenged themselves to think more broadly about the potential scope of the profession, and expanded it to include working with groups experiencing occupational deprivation that stems from sources other than disability. Examples of new and emerging practice areas would include therapists working with refugees, children experiencing obesity, and people experiencing homelessness.

In each area of practice, an OT can work with different populations, diagnosis, specialties, and in different settings.

William Rush Dunton, a supporter of the American Occupational Therapy Association, sought to promote the ideas that occupation is a basic human need, and that occupation is therapeutic. From his statements came some of the basic assumptions of occupational therapy, which include:
  • Occupation has a positive effect on health and well-being.
  • Occupation creates structure and organizes time.
  • Occupation brings meaning to life, culturally and personally.
  • Occupations are individual. People value different occupations.
This approach also highlights the importance of satisfactions in one's occupations, broadening the aim of occupational therapy beyond the mere completion of tasks to the holistic achievement of personal well-being.

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