One of the fastest growing professions is expected to continue its growth on through 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s one of many reasons the month of April is Occupational Therapy Month. It’s an opportunity to help educate the public regarding this demanding profession. There are a number of certain myths many may have about occupational therapists.
Just as its name implies, they not only do work with regards to someone’s occupation. The word itself refers to assisted daily living, whether that is an autistic child in school, the elderly needing to care for themselves, or a veteran from the armed forces dealing with poly-trauma. These are five important pieces of information about occupational therapy you may not know.
Veterans and Wounded Warriors
With nearly 1.5 million Americans currently serving in the armed forces, and 22.7 million veterans, the care of veterans will continue to grow. This is an area occupational therapists are in high demand. Practitioners can work as a civilian occupational therapist (OT) in military hospitals such as Walter Reed.
Captain Tammy Phipps, CPT, US Army Reserve, MS, OTR/L, CDRS, an army reservist on active duty, and Stephanie Johnson, MS, OTR/L, a civilian occupational therapist, both work at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC. They state there’s an increase in poly-trauma care with more sophisticated injuries including multiple limb loss, multiple wounds, and multiple medical complications.
Staying in Shape and Designing Orthotics
OTs oftentimes spend a significant amount of their workday standing, lifting patients, and handling heavy equipment. Occupational therapists are even trained to design, select, fabricate and train on orthotics (splints). These are for patients with hand and upper extremity injuries.
The Whole Picture
Occupational therapy practitioners have a holistic approach in getting better acquainted and fully understand a client’s overall environment. Some of these other services may involve a comprehensive evaluation of a client’s home. This can include their workplace or school. Practitioners can make recommendations for adaptive equipment and training, and provide guidance and education for family members and caregivers.
A Team Player
The occupational therapist is an integral part of a rehabilitation team, whether that’s in a hospital, long-term care facility or private home. Other team members may also include a physical therapist, speech pathologist, psychologist, and social worker.
Working with Children
When working with children OTs can be found in a number of settings. These can be home-based therapy or working directly with them at school privately or in the classroom.