As we arrive in April, you might have noticed children playing outside, and people starting to lineup at stadiums to watch the first game of the Major League Baseball season. One thing a lot of people don’t know is that April marks Occupational Therapy Month. Occupational therapy is something many people have heard of, but are never quite sure how to define what exactly it is. As someone who used to work in healthcare and in a hospital, occupational therapy is something I have come to understand quite well. In honor of Occupational Therapy Month, here are five facts and myths about occupational therapy.
Children are one-third of patients
One interesting fact about occupational therapy is that nearly one-third of all patients receiving occupational therapy are children. It might not make sense when you hear the word occupational therapy, but occupational therapy encompasses every aspect of living and thriving. Children often see an occupational therapist if they have trouble writing, because writing is something you do everyday in your life well into your adult years. I have a cousin that is autistic, and she went into occupational therapy when she was about five. It really helped her develop learning skills, reasoning skills, and even helped her learn how to communicate with other children.
Occupational therapy is different from physical therapy
One thing that a lot of people misunderstand about occupational therapy is that they think it is the same thing as physical therapy. That could not be further from the truth, considering physical therapy is focused on movement and regaining strength, like after you break a bone. Occupational therapy is focused only on helping someone gain independence, which enables them to do daily activities like take a shower. Occupational therapists will help you learn how to feed yourself, communicate properly, bathe, and teach you how to become a productive member of society. Occupational therapy is not about helping you find a job or workout for a job, it is about helping you move forward successfully in the job known as life.
Occupational therapy is not just for older people
One common myth about occupational therapy is that it is only something older people need, which is not true at all. Occupational therapy just helps you learn how to cope and adapt to your specific situation in order to be productive or live independently. People of all ages with learning disabilities often use occupational therapy, which can help them adapt to their challenges and overcome them. For example, a young person might use occupational therapy if they develop a traumatic brain injury due to playing sports. If someone is involved in a car wreck and has a spinal cord injury, an occupational therapist might come in to help the person adapt to being in a wheelchair. Occupational therapy is designed to help out someone of any age and circumstance.
Occupational therapy can be done in any setting
When you think of therapy, having to go to a hospital or medical office is often the first thing that pops into your head. When it comes to occupational therapy, you don’t have to do that, because occupational therapy can come straight to you. An occupational therapist can work in a number of different environments including the home, community center, hospital, medical clinic, or county clinic. One great thing about occupational therapy is that most of the therapy is done without a lot of other devices, unlike physical therapy. If you just need help with daily tasks as an older person, then the occupational therapist can come to your home to provide that needed assistance. This is great for people that do not have transportation, or because of a medical condition are unable to drive.
Occupational therapy is not monotonous
Having worked in a hospital, I can attest to the fact that a lot of healthcare related activities are boring, mostly due to the strict regulations that you have to follow as a caregiver. One really cool thing about occupational therapy is that it is not always the same thing day in and day out, and you get the chance to experience new ways of learning all the time. A lot of people might be apprehensive about occupational therapy because they think they will have to sit there and learn the same thing repeatedly, which is just not the case at all. Occupational therapists will often provide new games, toys, and devices throughout the therapy session, which allows you to do the same thing in different ways. Sometimes an occupational therapist will have to come up with a creative way of doing things, especially if mobility is limited due to a medical condition like arthritis. One reason why occupational therapy is not boring like many other therapies is because it can be done anywhere, which enables you to learn in a variety of environments.