Occupational Therapy Helps Individuals Live Life to It's Fullest
By Beryl Olson, MOT, OTR/L, LANA-CLT
Physical Medicine Supervisor
Avera Sacred Heart Hospital
April is Occupational Therapy Month
Occupational therapy enables people of all ages to live life to its fullest by helping them promote health, prevent—or live better with—injury, illness or disability. It is a practice deeply rooted in science and is evidence-based, meaning that the plan designed for each individual is supported by data, experience and “best practices” that have been developed and proven over time.
Occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants focus on “doing” whatever occupations or activities are meaningful to the individual. It is occupational therapy’s purpose to get beyond problems to the solutions that assure living life to its fullest. These solutions may be adaptations for how to do a task, changes to the surroundings or helping individuals to alter their own behaviors.
When working with an occupational therapy practitioner, strategies and modifications are customized for each individual to resolve problems, improve function and support everyday living activities. The goal is to maximize potential. Through these therapeutic approaches, occupational therapy helps individuals design their lives, develop needed skills, adjust their environments (e,g., home, school, or work) and build health-promoting habits and routines that will allow them to thrive.
By taking the full picture into account—a person’s psychological, physical, emotional and social makeup as well as his/her environment—occupational therapy assists clients to do the following:
- Achieve goals
- Function at the highest possible level
- Concentrate on what matters most to them
- Maintain or rebuild their independence
- Participate in daily activities that they need or want to do
Founded in 1917, the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) represents the interests and concerns of more than 140,000 occupational therapists, assistants and students nationwide. The Association educates the public and advances the profession of occupational therapy by providing resources, setting standards including accreditations and serving as an advocate to improve health care. Based in Bethesda, Md., AOTA’s major programs and activities are directed toward promoting the professional development of its members and assuring consumer access to quality services so patients can maximize their individual potential. For more information, go to www.aota.org.
If you feel that your ability to participate in the occupations that matter to you has been affected by an illness or injury, talk to your doctor about a referral to occupational therapy. You may also contact Avera Sacred Heart Hospital’s Occupational Therapy Department at (605) 668-8268 for more information.