Millions of people benefit from occupational therapy every day. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics calls occupational therapy, or ‘OT,’ one of the fastest growing careers in the U.S. today, with more adults, children, and even babies needing OT services every year. This vital specialty has been a part of the U.S. healthcare system for more than 100 years, yet it remains one of the least understood facets of the healthcare industry. Here are some facts about OT you might not know:
1) More than 110,000 occupational therapists are licensed to practice in the United States. Florida alone has more than 6,000 licensed OT practitioners.
2) Occupational therapists don’t just work in hospitals. They perform their services in schools, assisted living facilities, and mental health clinics.
3) Some of the lesser-known conditions that benefit from OT services include attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders, autism, and even mood disorders.
4) Occupational therapists are an integral part of helping those with substance abuse conditions regain normal lives.
5) The earliest evidence of the use of occupational therapy can be found in ancient times. As far back as c. 100 BC, Greek physician Asclepiades of Bithynia used humane treatment such as music therapy and exercise on patients with mental illnesses. Unfortunately, these treatments were lost in medieval times.
6) Occupational therapists help people make adjustments to their living spaces by removing barriers and installing bathroom grab bars.
7) Stroke victims are up to 40 percent less likely to need nursing home placement if they receive occupational therapy.
8) The AOTA (American Occupational Therapy Association) was founded in 1917 to promote OT awareness.
9) Occupational therapists are working with engineers to develop robotics that can help stroke victims.
April is Occupational Therapy Month honoring these vital interventions that help millions of people who have experienced a disruption in their capacity to care for themselves. Occupational therapists and OT assistants aid these patients in learning, relearning, or maintaining the skills necessary to perform their activities of daily living, enabling them to get back to living the best lives they can.