What is OT?

22 Sep

I thought I would post a note explaining exactly what becoming an OT means! If you’ve ever heard of physical therapy, reading this description will make a little bit more sense. We are similar; however, we definitely have our own specialty…and that is FUNCTION! Who cares how strong your legs are, or if you have full range of motion in your joints, if you can’t walk to the toilet, unbutton your pants, pull down your zipper, pull down your pants (without losing your balance), sit on the toilet, and use the restroom like you used to before you had a stroke. It’s the little things in life that we take advantage of, and we don’t realize how important those little things are until we are unable to do them, or our children are having difficulty learning how to do them by themselves. OT is part of the rehabilitation team, which also includes physical therapy and speech therapy. There are many different populations you can work with as an OT, including infants, children, adolescents, young and older adults, and even in mental health. So here goes my attempt at explaining OT:

What Is Occupational Therapy? According to the American Occupational Therapy Association OT in its simplest terms is described as:

“Occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants help people across the lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities (occupations). Common occupational therapy interventions include helping children with disabilities to participate fully in school and social situations, helping people recovering from injury to regain skills, and providing supports for older adults experiencing physical and cognitive changes.”

I’ll try to break it down. What does “occupation” mean?

Occupation is defined as: “that which chiefly engages one’s time, trade, profession, or business.”

In plain English, occupation can be defined as the way in which we occupy our time. According to our profession’s framework, our time can be divided into 3 categories: work, self-care, and leisure/play.

Work is defined as:  exertion or effort directed to produce or accomplish something; labor; toil.

Self-care (also known in the OT world as Activities of Daily Living) is defined as: sleeping, eating, grooming, dressing, and toileting.

Leisure/play is defined as: free, unoccupied time; time free from the demands of work or duty, when one can rest, enjoy hobbies or sports, etc.

So basically, every activity we engage in on a daily basis, whether chosen or by obligation, restful or stressful, paid or unpaid, can be considered our individual “occupations.” Our occupations give us a sense of purpose, and allow us to interact with others and the world.

Now for the definition of “therapy.”

Therapy is defined as: “the treatment of disease or disorders, as by some remedial, rehabilitating, or curative process”

If, at any point in your life (whether present at birth or onset at a later time), illness, injury, or disability prevents you from effectively or independently functioning in one or more of your “occupations”, then it is the job of the Occupational Therapist to provide interventions in order to help you regain lost function, or make accommodations or modifications for any deficits you may have.

Make sense?

Still want to know more? Check out this website: http://www.aota.org/Consumers.aspx



2 Responses to “What is OT?”

  1. TheOTSIProject October 15, 2012 at 12:34 am #

    Reblogged this on THE OT-SI PROJECT and commented:
    Defining occupational therapy to your family, friends and general public everytime someone asks what you “do” or “study” …. should be a full time job. Maybe every OT and OTS in the world should get matching definition t-shirts made and wear them for a year straight. 🙂

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