What Is Occupational Therapy?
Your life is made up of occupations — meaningful, everyday activities. For occupational therapy, the term occupation focuses on what occupies your time. These occupations can include many roles, such as being a student, friend, parent, baseball player, artist, chef, pet owner, or musician.
We typically don’t think about our daily occupations until we have trouble doing them or can no longer do them at all. Everyone has occupations: toddlers (whose occupations are eating, playing, and learning), college students (whose occupations are studying and going to class), and older adults (whose occupations might be taking care of their dog, cooking for themselves, taking care of their home, and driving). If you have been injured or are recovering from an accident, you might find that your daily occupations have been changed as well. Occupational therapy addresses what is important to you and your goals throughout the rehabilitation process. It’s not about what the therapist feels is important for you to be able to do; it is all about what you want to achieve.
Why Would Someone Need Occupational Therapy?
Imagine if an accident, injury, disease, or condition made it difficult for you to participate in your daily life. A shoulder injury means that getting dressed in the morning is painful and difficult. Arthritis makes driving challenging when you attempt to grip the steering wheel and turn your head to look in the other lane. Autism may limit a child from interacting effectively with parents, siblings, and classmates. A traumatic brain injury keeps a wounded warrior out of active duty because of difficulties with memory and organizational skills.
Occupational therapy enables people of all ages to do the activities they want and need to do. An occupational therapy assistant works directly with an occupational therapist to provide intervention that focuses specifically on your goals to get you back to dressing, driving, sports, cooking, caring for yourself and others, and life! Occupational therapy practitioners also focus on groups and communities to develop and implement programs to promote healthy lifestyles. These programs address many different issues, such as older adult driving, childhood obesity, community transitions for returning soldiers, support groups, homelessness, mental health, domestic violence, and addictions.
If you have a passion for helping people reach their fullest potential in their everyday activities and want to be directly involved in their recovery process, an OTA degree might be for you! To learn more about becoming professionally involved in occupational therapy, consider pursuing an occupational therapy assistant bachelor’s degree at Huntington University (the first fully accredited OTA bachelor’s degree program in the United States!).