Understanding occupational therapy

When I tell people that I am a college student, their first question is often, “What are you studying?” No matter who is asking me, I almost always have to explain my answer. I am an occupational therapy student at the University of Findlay.

Occupational therapy is a profession that many people do not understand. My professors have taught me the importance of advocating for our profession, which starts with educating others on what occupational therapy is and its many uses.

Occupational therapy (OT) can be difficult to define because treatment looks very different depending on the setting and population with which the therapist is working. I find it helpful to first define "occupations" as they are seen in the world of OT. An occupation is any meaningful activity that someone wants or needs to perform on a regular basis, such as getting dressed, grocery shopping, working and hobbies.

When someone has an illness, injury or disability, it becomes difficult to perform their occupations. An occupational therapist works with a client to gain or regain the skills they need to perform their daily occupations.

One of the most defining aspects of OT is its use of occupations as therapy. If a person is recovering from a hip replacement and needs to work on cooking skills and moving around the kitchen, their therapy session may consist of them and their occupational therapist cooking together. While the client and occupational therapist are cooking, they might work on safe ambulation around the kitchen and using adaptive equipment to ensure the client’s safety.

Whether a client is struggling physically or cognitively, occupational therapists give them strategies and exercises to recover from or adapt to their deficit and become as independent as possible. To learn more about occupational therapy and its many uses, visit www.aota.org.

Katie Koomar is a Bay Village resident currently studying occupational therapy at the University of Findlay.

Katie Koomar

I am an occupational therapy student at the University of Findlay. For a class assignment, I had to perform some kind of advocacy for my future profession. 

Read More on Letters to the Editor
Volume 10, Issue 19, Posted 9:54 AM, 10.02.2018