October is Occupational Therapy Month in Canada. It’s all about celebrating the profession and educating the public. With that in mind, here are six things most people don’t know or misunderstand about occupational therapy.
1. It’s about more than just your occupation. To most people, occupation means job, which is why many people assume occupational therapists only help people in relation to their work. This is false. Occupational therapy is about helping anyone at any age and in any setting whose ability to perform activities of daily living has been disrupted.
2. Occupational therapy and physical therapy are not the same thing. Although occupational therapy and physical therapy both aim to help people improve their lives, they do so in different ways. While a physical therapist treats an individual mainly from a biomechanical perspective (e.g. to increase their range of motion or reduce pain), an occupational therapist is more concerned with helping an individual perform activities of daily living. The ability to perform activities of daily living may very likely involve physical therapy, but it may also involve other strategies. Occupational therapists and physical therapists work closely together.
3. There are a lot of occupational therapists, but more are needed. For a number of reasons (including retirements and our aging population), the need for newly trained occupational therapists is expected to grow considerably.
4. You never know where you’ll find an occupational therapist. One of the great things about occupational therapists is that they can be found working in a vast array of settings. They work in hospitals, schools, nursing homes, home-care agencies, businesses and more. Of course, many occupational therapists also do home visits so they can help people thrive in the setting they spend the most time in.
5. There’s an app for that. In fact, there are lots of apps to support occupational therapists and their patients. Therapy Guide, for example, helps individuals manage their occupational therapy programs during times when the occupational therapist isn’t present.
6. There’s also a free podcast. The Seniors Flourish Podcast (available for free download on iTunes) helps occupational therapy practitioners working with older adults be the best they can be by showcasing relevant interviews, answering questions and discussing current articles and hot topics.
Joel Stoddart is a PR consultant with Family 1st Medical. To learn more about Family 1st Medical, visit www.family1st.ca.