By: MaKenzie Kathol, OTD, OTR/L, CDP
Every April, we celebrate Occupational Therapy Month to honor the meaningful differences occupational therapists make in the lives of our clients. Occupational therapy is a unique, but commonly a misunderstood profession. So, what exactly is occupational therapy? And when should you see an occupational therapist (OT) for therapy?
An occupational therapist centers their practice around “occupations.” An occupation is most commonly defined as one’s job or career. However, as occupational therapists, we define occupations as the everyday activities an individual participates in or ADLs. This can be ANYTHING that serves a purpose or is meaningful to that person. This can include your basic daily activities (dressing, bathing, eating, etc.) or even your hobbies (painting, baking, gardening, etc). Occupational therapists can help people of all ages, from newborns to centenarians; and all ages in between.
There are numerous specialties within the field of occupational therapy. These include Certified Hand Therapists (CHT), Certified Dementia Practitioner (CDP), Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS), and more. Even if an occupational therapist is not certified in a specialty, s/he has a broad knowledge base to help individuals develop a plan to meet his/her goals.
How can occupational therapy help you? If you are currently struggling with participating in any activity you complete daily, occupational therapy may be beneficial to you! An occupational therapist utilizes their knowledge and expertise to determine what impairment is hindering your performance in necessary or meaningful occupations. Then, the occupational therapist will create exercises or programs to help overcome the identified impairment. Allowing you to regain performance of your meaningful activity. Improving your participation in daily occupations has been linked to better physical and mental health, and overall improvement in quality of life!