April is National Occupational Therapy Month

  • Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Dear Editor:
April is National Occupational Therapy Month.
Occupational Therapy is a type of rehabilitation, which focuses on increasing a patients’ independence in all areas of life. This means that the focus is on return to work, and activities of daily living such as dressing, bathing and hobbies. 
We use exercise like typically thought of with rehabilitation but also use various functional activities that will also achieve the goals. 
In South Carolina, there are over 1,400 licensed Occupational Therapists and over 600 Occupational Therapy Assistants. The Medical University of South Carolina is the only school in the state to offer an Occupational Therapy degree, which is now a Masters degree. Trident Technical College and Greenville Technical College offer the Occupational Therapy Assistant degree programs.
Occupational Therapists can be found in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, outpatient facilities, assisted living centers, and schools. 
Patients treated can be 0-100 years old. In the hospital setting, Occupational Therapists work with babies in NICU, children and adults who have had an illness or accidents such as burns, brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, strokes, heart attacks, broken bones, etc. There are also out-patient centers which focus on specific types of injuries such as a Hand Therapy Center where the main goals are to increase movement, strength and functional use of the hand/arm for ADLs and return to work. 
There are outpatient rehabilitation centers that offer more intensive rehabilitation for stroke, head injuries, joint replacements, etc where OT is often offered to patients twice a day.  
Occupational Therapists also work in the school system with kids who have cerebral palsy or other types of birth traumas that impair mobility and functional use of the arms/hands.  In nursing homes, OTs work with patients on increasing their abilities to dress themselves, feed themselves, bathe and get around in the center or hopefully in the patient’s home. 
Occupational Therapy is a versatile field with the main focus of restoring the patients’ independence in activities of daily living, hobbies and return to work if appropriate.  It is a rewarding field of work but often people do not understand what it is all about.  April is Occupational Therapy Month and the hope is that you have a better understanding of the profession after reading this article.  If you know an OT, tell her or him that you learned something about what they do!  They will appreciate it!
Ann Maggard, MHS, OTR/L, CHT     

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