By Colleen Leonard, Occupational Therapist
The roots of Occupational Therapy (OT) reach back to the early part of the last century. This therapeutic intervention was the result of the need for reform of the mental health care system. At the time, OT’s demonstrated that patients experienced a more successful recovery as a result of purposeful occupation and engagement in meaningful activity.
The profession has grown a great deal since then. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 110,000 people are employed as OT’s and over 41,000 people are employed as Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants. During the month of April, we celebrate this noble profession and recognize OT’s for their contributions.
The Role of the OT
Occupational therapists work in a variety of healthcare and educational settings. They treat people of all ages with a wide range of physical, sensory and cognitive disabilities. Their goal is to help people become as independent as possible in all areas of life.
The role of the OT in the long-term acute care setting is a little different than other settings. The primary goal of acute care is to stabilize the patient’s medical status. Occupational therapy plays an important role in facilitating early mobilization, restoring function, preventing further decline. OT evaluates the need for splits and positioning devices. They train families and caregivers to assist with range of motion exercises. Basic activities of daily living skills are introduced with may include self-feeding with adaptive equipment as needed, basic grooming as well as toileting. Therapeutic interventions need to be modified in this setting because of the highly compromised condition of each patient. OT’s are also employed in hospitals, rehabilitation centers and other homes, and help patients regain vital skills after a traumatic event or surgery. Therapists help patients assess home safety, reducing the risk of falling and accidents. They teach patients how to use adaptive equipment to assist with functioning and promote independence.
Mental health OT’s typically treat patients in a group setting, help them increase self-awareness, develop social skills and learn stress management. They also help patients develop appropriate leisure and recreational skills. OT’s also teach patients how to use community resources, time management, and safety awareness as well.
In schools and educational settings, OT’s help children improve cognitive functioning, physical ability and motor skills. They have a huge impact on the children by enhancing their self-esteem and improving their pride through accomplishment.
Celebrate OT Month
The best way to celebrate and honor these therapists is to promote awareness of the profession. Most people are not aware of the importance of the OT in the Long Term Acute Care Hospital (LTACH). All month long, Specialty Hospital of Central Jersey will be celebrating Occupational Therapists. Being an OT, especially in an LTACH, is beyond rewarding. These incredible individuals help each patient regain independence, return to health and reach his or her full potential.
Joining the Specialty Hospital of Central Jersey Team
At Specialty Hospital of Central Jersey, care is delivered with a team approach achieving patient goals over a longer course of time. If you are an OT and would like to join our team, learn more about the careers at Specialty Hospital of Central Jersey, by clicking the button below.