Occupational Therapy Month 2021
Each year the month of April is Occupational Therapy Month, which is used to help promote occupational therapy. Although vitally important as a service to those who need it, occupational therapy is not as well known on the healthcare spectrum as some of its’ contemporaries. Beginning in 1980, Occupational Therapy Month has been used to bring attention and recognition to a nearly 100-year-old career rooted in science and evidence-based practice that focuses on practice areas that include Mental Health, Pediatrics, Rehabilitation, Disability, and Participation; Healthy Living Habits; Appropriate Aging; and Vocational Work.
The best way to celebrate Occupational Therapy month is by recognizing occupational therapists and the type of work they do and why it is important. Occupational therapy is a process in which a holistic and customized approach is used to help people across the lifespan participate in activities they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities (occupations). This type of therapy is focused on adapting an individual’s environment and/or task to fit the person and their specific set of circumstances or disability. Through this approach, occupational therapists enable people of all ages to live life to the fullest by helping promote health, and prevent – or live better with – injury, illness, or disability.
Occupational therapy services typically include: an individualized evaluation, during which the client/family and occupational therapist determine the person’s goals; customized intervention to improve the person’s ability to perform daily activities and reach the goals; an outcomes evaluation to ensure that the goals are being met and/or make changes to the intervention plan. Below are some examples of common types of services occupational therapists provide:
- Helping children with physical and mental disabilities fully participate in school and social situations.
- Keeping older adult drivers independent and safe in their vehicles by conducting in car assessments, providing recommendations for adaptive equipment, and suggesting appropriate self-restrictions.
- Offering individuals who are recovering from a stroke multiple ways to regain independence in their activities of daily living (i.e., dressing, bathing, and household chores).
- Assisting individuals in recovering from an injury to regain the vocational skills necessary to return to their place of employment.
- Providing support for adults and older adults experiencing physical and cognitive changes.
- Conducting home evaluations for older adults or individuals with disabilities to prevent falls and promote safety.
- Helping veterans with community integration by assisting them in overcoming physical injuries such as limb loss and mental challenges, such as traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder.
If you want to get involved and participate in Occupational Therapy Month, take the time to recognize an occupational therapist that you know. You can also go to www.AOTA.org to view educational materials to learn more about the profession and the individuals they support.