In the rehab world, many patients are familiar with what a Physical Therapist can do for them – “My PT helps with my range of motion and strength. I’m going to be able to get back to ______ activity/sport!” Occupational Therapy, on the other hand, is something misunderstood by many – “Why do I need Occupational Therapy (OT)? I already have a good job!”
Occupational therapist’s work primarily with ADLs (Activities of Daily Living). These activities can be as basic as getting dressed and eating breakfast, or as complicated as returning to driving or relearning how to use your fingers after a severe injury to your hand. Anything that you do during your day is part of your occupation – your job of LIFE. That is what an OT helps with – improving your ability to live your life to the best of your potential.
The American Occupational Therapy Association website: www.aota.org
Often, Occupational Therapists are lumped into the category of working on fine motor skills (handwriting for children, as an example) and upper body work. This is part of what your OT can help you with, but they can help with so much more! An OT may work with veterans returning home to help them to reintegrate into the work force; alternately, an OT may help someone after they’ve suffered from a stroke and need to relearn how to use a calendar or to use their hand or arm to regain independence.
A word often used to describe Occupational Therapy is holistic – a concept which involves looking at the whole person, rather than just symptoms. One prime example of where this holistic approach is most needed is the case of an individual with chronic pain. The mental and physical components of chronic pain can be so overwhelming that, unless all areas are addressed, the likelihood of progress in treatment is diminished.
People of all ages can benefit from OT, whether it’s gaining assistance in learning a skill for the first time or relearning a skill; Occupational Therapists will meet you where you are in order to help you return to your daily activities!
Kezia Peterson, MOTR/L
Licensed Occupational Therapist
Kezia provides care at both our East and West clinics in Bozeman, MT.