This year’s celebration of Occupational Therapy Month in April also marks 100 years of this health care profession.
On March 15, 1917, six members founded the American Occupational Therapy Association in Clifton Springs, New York. Since then, the organization has worked to create a global understanding of the profession through public education and resources, setting standards including accreditations, and serving as an advocate to improve health care.
Occupational therapy helps people of all ages do the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of daily activities (occupations). Occupational therapists improve their patients’ lives by helping them prevent or live with an injury, illness or disability.
Common occupational therapy interventions include helping children with disabilities to participate fully in school and social situations, helping people recovering from injury to regain skills, and providing supports for older adults experiencing physical and cognitive changes. Occupational therapy services typically include:
- an individualized evaluation, during which the client/family and occupational therapist determine the person’s goals
- customized intervention to improve the person’s ability to perform daily activities and reach the goals
- an outcomes evaluation to ensure that the goals are being met and/or make changes to the intervention plan
Occupational therapy practitioners have a holistic perspective, in which the focus is on adapting the environment and/or task to fit the person, and the person is an integral part of the therapy team. It is an evidence-based practice deeply rooted in science.
St. Anthony’s has two outpatient clinics: St. Anthony’s Sports and Physical Therapy and Orthopedic and Sports Rehabilitation. Both locations are staffed with occupational therapists who are also certified hand therapists.
A certified hand therapist (CHT) is an occupational therapist or physical therapist who has a minimum of three years of clinical experience, including 4,000 hours or more in direct practice in hand therapy. In addition, the certified hand therapist has successfully passed a comprehensive test of advanced clinical skills and theory in upper quarter rehabilitation. Because of changes in the profession, every CHT is required to demonstrate continued professional development and competency by re-certifying every five years.
Sources: Hand Therapy Certification Commission & American Occupational Therapy Association