Published on April 12, 2019

Occupational Therapy:
The Profession that Focuses on Life Skills

For millions of people, the service of occupational therapy is a lifeline. People of all ages receive it to help when participating in activities of their daily life. Sometimes people need occupational therapy to do things taken for granted, such as dressing being productive at school or work, eating unassisted, and even socializing.

In recognition of all the ways occupational therapy contributes to society's well-being, April is designated as Occupational Therapy Month. Holzer would like to recognize and express our appreciation to all the Occupational Therapy Providers in our system that provide this valuable service to our patients and communities. 

Occupational therapy doesn't just treat medical conditions; it helps people stay involved in activities that provide a sense of purpose, despite challenges. Occupational therapists help people surmount their disabilities or medical conditions to do everyday things. The nature of the therapy depends on the individual and their environment. Occupational therapists consider the whole person when developing a therapy plan and collaborate with physicians and other professionals to ensure a comprehensive approach.

"In a split second, anyone's life can change. Our job is to look at the patient holistically, and take those things that are meaningful to them, and get the patient back to those tasks," stated Stella Barrett, OTR/L, Director, Therapy Services, Holzer Health System.  "It may take a new way of learning the task, but we strive to get the patient back to their normal routines."

Occupational therapy is "outcome-oriented," which means therapists help clients work toward achievable performance goals. In rehabilitation clinics or hospitals, occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants help adults learn or regain skills that allow them to do meaningful things like working, driving, shopping, and even preparing a meal. All types of people need this kind of help everyday, from a worker injured on the job, to a grandparent recovering from surgery or a stroke.

In addition, occupational therapy helps avoid health problems and makes it easier to live with some disabilities. Research proves that keeping people active and healthy as they age will improve their quality of life as well as lower their healthcare costs. For this reason, there are occupational therapy programs focusing on wellness and prevention to help seniors stay healthier and remain active in their homes and communities. Trained therapists can make homes safer for people with reduced mobility and failing vision.

Occupational therapy addresses one of the most important aspects of rehabilitation and recovery, the return to a normal life. Occupational therapy has its roots helping war veterans return to life at home. These days, occupational therapists work in veteran facilities, rehabilitation hospitals, schools, nursing homes/assisted living facilities, and patient homes to mention a few areas.

For more information about Occupational Therapy Month, call (740) 446-5122.

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