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What is Occupational Therapy?

What is OT1

According to the American Occupational Therapy Association Inc (2013) Occupational therapy is a way to “help people across the lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the use of everyday activities.”

History of OT2:

1910’s: The first professional association for OT was adopted in 1917 and was called the National Society for the Promotion of Occupational Therapy (NSPOT).  There were six people in attendance of the first meeting which took place March 15, 1917 in Clifton Springs, New York.  Those individuals were George Baron, Thomas Kidner, William Dunton, Eleanor Clarke Slagle, Isabel Newton, and Susan Johnson.  At this meeting the basic philosophy for the association was created.  One of the first goals of NSPOT was to seek military support during World War I to send 5,000 reconstruction aides to provide occupational therapy services to wounded soldiers.

1920’s: NSPOT changed their name to the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA).  During this decade occupational therapy took on more of a role in hospital and mental health settings.  Also, professional level courses began being taught at colleges and universities across the country.

1930-1950’s:  During this time the field of occupational therapy became more aligned with the medical field and focused more on a scientific form of treatment.

1960-70’s: The broad field of occupational therapy began to form specialized fields such as pediatrics and developmental disabilities.

1980-90’s: The occupational therapy field focused more on education, prevention, and health maintenance for patients.  Another focus of this time was the creation of screening programs.

2000’s:  Currently there is a push in the field for a return to the roots of which occupational therapy was created, a focus on occupations as the form of treatment for patients.  As of 2010 there were 108,800 practicing OTs and 36,000 practicing OTAs across the country.

Who benefits:

The truth is OT can help a HUGE variety of people across all age groups live life to their fullest.  People benefiting from OT could include individuals injured at work, limitations after a stroke, suffering from chronic conditions, with birth injuries and developmental delays, dealing with substance abuse, with burns, with spinal cord injuries, amputations, mental health issues, physical traumas, and many others.  Occupational therapists can be found in settings like hospitals, transitional care units, skilled nursing facilities, outpatient facilities, prisons, state hospitals, schools, and in home health.

1. Information from: http://www.aota.org/Consumers.aspx

2. Information from: http://depts.washington.edu/lend/seminars/modules/ot/history.htm

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