Occupational Therapy: Recovering ADLs

Sarah Cousino , OT major

Occupational therapy is a field in the healthcare industry that is unfamiliar to many. A typical reaction when I tell someone I major in OT is, “What is that?” To this day, it is still challenging at times to give a concrete answer to that question, because the role of an occupational therapist can be so many different things. OT includes a vast realm of job settings and fields in which one can practice. The essence of occupational therapy is to help individuals lead a life that is meaningful to them. Occupational therapists use holistic methods to assist clients in regaining the ability to complete tasks that they once could and reach goals they set for themselves.

The recovery process after an injury or traumatic event is long and arduous, and often times, simple tasks, such as brushing your teeth, are no longer simple. People may need to entirely relearn how to complete these tasks. This is where OT comes in. Occupational therapists work side by side with clients to support and assist their involvement and mastery of daily occupations. This promotes and supports the overall health and wellbeing of the client. They identify what is valuable to someone, whether it be taking a walk, or cooking a meal, and strive to develop ways to make these things achievable. Put simply, occupational therapists help people live the life they want to live, and experience it the fullest, without letting a disability or injury hold them back.

Occupational therapists work in many of the same settings as nurses, such as hospitals, schools, and mental health facilities, to name just a few. It is important for occupational therapists and nurses to work together and understand each other’s respective fields so that an effective and successful work environment is created, in which a patient can flourish. For example, the information, instructions, and precautions a nurse provides a patient regarding their condition or disease are crucial to a successful recovery. On the other hand, the development of individual adaptations to aid independent living is something that would fall under an occupational therapist’s job description. By communicating with each other, both professionals can decide what is best for the patient, and what techniques will make the recovery process as smooth as possible. It is important to inform each other about patient’s progress, and provide updates about any recent changes. In the same regard, it is necessary to maintain a level of respect and cooperation between all members of the healthcare team. By understanding each profession, the strengths and weaknesses of each member can be incorporated appropriately to maximize efficiency and achievement.

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