When you think about healthcare providers, only doctors and nurses come to mind. Why do Occupational Therapists rarely come into the picture? They are underrated even if they’re doing wondrous things. They are not even recognized for giving a better quality of life. Time and time again they’re able to do an exceptional job for those who need their help. Now more than ever, we badly need their help especially in this pandemic as we don’t want to overcrowd the healthcare system. Therapies are essential for much-needed rehabilitation. We can’t look after our loved ones who are dealing with certain illnesses or deficiencies 24/7. Imagine yourself in their shoes when you’re having difficulties with the simplest of tasks. How can you even function normally?
What’s the role of Occupational Therapists?
According to the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), Occupational therapy is the only profession that helps people across the lifespan to do the things they want and need to do. They usually help through the therapeutic use of daily activities. Occupational therapists enable people of all ages to live life to its fullest. They help promote better health, and prevent—or live better with—injury, illness, or disability. How amazing their job is right? Yet they stay underrated if not recognized at all.
Common occupational therapy interventions include helping children with disabilities. They help them to participate fully in school and social situations. They can also help people recovering from injury to regain skills. OTs practitioners also provide support for older adults experiencing physical and cognitive changes. Their impact on the patient’s lives is unimaginable. Most of the time, if you have these disabilities, you’ll get depressed easily and feel helpless. With the help of OTs, you can have some sense of normalcy. When things get a little bit better, you feel some comfort. Because of that, you’ll want to feel alive again. Who doesn’t want to live normal lives right? OTs, help people expand their capabilities to their fullest potential. They help our kids who have difficulties to do the basic tasks in living. Say, for example, brushing their teeth, getting their clothes on, or even doing their homework.
We’ve seen how OTs do their therapy sessions, it looks like they’re just playing with the kids. What we don’t understand is the science behind it. What’s going on though is they determine what muscles need to be activated. What is the motion or movement that they need to create? What do the experts say? According to Cincinnati Children’s, motor learning, repetition, and doing things over and over again is what brings about change. Many children if they have some sort of condition that affects them to develop mentally, may affect all areas of development. It can be social, cognitive, or speech and fine motor development. Their focus is to make them more independent. If our kids have some sort of these challenges, don’t we want to give them a fair chance to live properly? Of course, we do, because we love them dearly. We only want the best for them. They usually do evidence-based care which means that they use the evidence to see what intervention they need or what’s the best one for that child depending on their condition. They treat kids through episodes of care and they do what matters most to the patient. The approach is targeted and not just the most generalized approach. They help in the simplest of tasks that influence the kids’ lives. They are doing it to achieve great things in a small duration of time instead of long and arduous therapy. If you will achieve success on that, it can be an awesome experience for the patient.
Why is it underrated? It is a common misconception that occupational therapy is concerned solely, or even primarily, with getting people back to work. This must be where occupational was derived. The term occupational in this context means a purposeful activity of any kind in daily life, not necessarily employment. Based on the U.S. BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS, there are 133,000 OTs in the US. That’s not a lot and a big chunk of that population works independently. Many of us don’t think about how important their roles are. Their approach is very practical and their goal is long-lasting and positive lifestyle changes. It takes a lot of patience and compassion to do their work. It usually takes a lot of time for most people to recover but they stay with their patients until they’re fully recovered. You can’t survive this role if you are not passionate about it. There should be a lot of heart in it.
)ccupational therapists’ role in patient care is huge and it should be recognized by our healthcare system. There should be tremendous support in their role. As for now, it doesn’t get the credit and the attention it deserves. What can we do to recognize them? For their efforts alone, there must be something that we can do to recognize them. Say, for example, should you have been treated by them, post on Social Media how they were able to help you recover. By now you must be enjoying life and living life to the fullest and you owe it to them. A simple gesture of a shoutout means a lot. It will show how grateful you are for their heroic acts. It can also be done by the guardians of the patients in case they’re still kids or already elderly. Doing so can, therefore, be a challenge. Should you get a chance to give a testimony to a church service or maybe in front of the community, try to recognize them as well. What they have done must truly change your life for the better. Who could have thought that you could recover from a devastating accident? You must have a better life now after incurring a dreaded illness and that is something to be grateful for. Yes, it can be because of divine intervention but these OTs are instrumental to that. We just hope that one day, it will get the attention and popularity it deserves.