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April is Occupational Therapy Month, designated by the American Occupational Therapy Association to recognize that Occupational therapy (OT) helps people of all ages live life to its fullest after an illness or injury. Occupational therapy is the only profession that helps people across the lifespan to do the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of daily activities (occupations). Occupational therapists teach people how to promote health for themselves, and prevent—or live better with—injury, illness, or disability.
Often in practice, we here people say, “Oh yeah, I have an OT; he/she comes to help me shower.” While that may be true (and necessary!), there is a much broader range to the potential of your occupational therapist, and if you are simply allowing them to help you shower and then sitting idle in frustration the remainder of the day, you are missing out on numerous possibilities. Think about all the things that occupy your time throughout a normal day; the mundane, the ordinary and the fun things. As humans, we tend to take our abilities for granted: the ability to walk, drink a cup of coffee, write a letter to a friend, turn on the tv, collect the daily mail, etc. With aging, illness, disease, and accidents, there is always a risk that our normalcy will be taken from us. Occupational therapy is about problem solving. It’s about helping people perform daily necessary tasks, and also helping them do the things they want to do: the hobbies, the activities, the fun things, because those are all important. An occupational therapist will get to know you, your home, and your specific needs with the intention of teaching you new ways to maintain your daily occupations/routines.
OT looks different for everyone. We are all different, and have different needs and wants. According to one of our local OTs, Hronn Gudmundsdottir, occupational therapists help with everything you do in daily life from the moment you roll out of bed in the morning until you lay back down at night. “I sometimes assist my clients with using their smart devices, [helping them] become more familiar with them, and even set up ordering groceries online, which is so important today!”
There are times when occupational therapy is clearly needed. But, we often don’t realize that OT is for us. When illness, accident, and/or age debilitate you, definitely call an OT, but also start to think about your daily needs and activities. Could you use a little more help? There is no shame in accepting occupational therapy. Your best life is within reach. Talk to your healthcare providers. Often, the resources are available to you if you ask.
DISCLAIMER: This article contains information that is intended to help the readers be better informed regarding exercise and health care. It is presented as general advice on health care. Always consult your doctor for your individual needs. Before beginning any new exercise program it is recommended that you seek medical advice from your personal physician. This article is not intended to be a substitute for the medical advice of a licensed physician. The reader should consult with their doctor in any matters relating to his/her health.