Occupational therapy is something that most people have heard of at some point, but may not be sure what exactly it consists of. Some think that it is therapy for the job you hold, or therapy that will help you find a job. This is completely false: Occupational therapy (OT) helps many people in different situations reach independence for everyday life. It is an admirable career that always has a place in the economy and is very satisfying for those in the field. The therapists in this field help people from infancy to their senior years.
The confusion over occupational therapy has resulted in several myths cropping up.
Myth 1: Occupational therapy is only for the disabled.
OT does help those with disabilities cope with and overcome them, but that’s not all.
OT is for anyone who desires a higher level of independence for their stage of life, not just for those who are disabled in some way. The goal for independence depends on the person and their situation. For example, a parent may want help with their infant’s abnormal development pattern (whether it’s motor skills or speech). An old man who has just suffered a stroke may need help with his everyday skills, like putting on a shirt, or getting in and out of a car.
No matter your situation, OT can help you achieve a better standard of living, according to your life and needs.
Myth 2: Occupational therapy is the same thing as physical therapy.
While both OT and PT help individuals achieve better mobility and more independence, there is a marked difference between the two.
The focal point of PT is mobility, especially after an accident or injury. For example, a woman may have fallen and injured her knee. Physical therapy helps work on bending and flexing the knee.
Occupational therapy focuses on everything in life; the things that you need in order to get dressed, eat, take care of personal hygiene, work, etc. It gives people the opportunity to focus on the simple things that make the world go ‘round to achieve personal independence.
Myth 3: Occupational therapy is boring.
So false! Those who attend occupational therapy colleges learn how to mix up the routine during treatment. Something as simple as finger painting can be an occupational therapy treatment, for a child learning motor skills or an older person with arthritis. The patient can be excited about therapy, and the therapist can have fun.
There are so many ways to make OT fun for patients, to keep them motivated and interested. We will list just three, to spark innovation and inspire others.
You can use pool noodles in a variety of ways during OT. They make great bats for “baseball” games. The noodles are thicker, for easier grip, can be cut to any length, and are soft. You can either toss a balloon or beach ball, or hang one from a string.
Pilates isn’t just for the health obsessed anymore. It offers the opportunity for strength and flexibility training, balance, motor learning, and so much more. All of these help those with independence training. The reaching, stretching, and strength moves of the practice help for everyday life, not just health.
Believe it or not, video games can help in aiding occupational therapists. The Wii, along with Kinect and Playstation Move, are great ways to get patients up and moving. Combined with sight skills, the motion-sensitive consoles help those in OT with certain functional movements. Timing, loosening up, coordination, and balance issues are addressed.
Overal, OT is underutilized and very valuable for life. Patients involved end up with a much higher amount of independence, and need less help than those who don’t use OT.