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Occupational Therapy’s Role in Health Promotion

Occupational Therapy’s Role in Health Promotion

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Behavior patterns which can be influenced by the environment, education, poverty, genetic disposition, and access to health care are the leading cause for poor health, disease, disability, and early death (McGinnis, Williams-Russo, & Knickman, 2002). Occupational therapy practitioners understand the complex and dynamic interactions between the person, their environment and activities they need to accomplish in their daily lives.
Behavior patterns which can be influenced by the environment, education, poverty, genetic disposition, and access to health care are the leading cause for poor health, disease, disability, and early death (McGinnis, Williams-Russo, & Knickman, 2002). Occupational therapy practitioners understand the complex and dynamic interactions between the person, their environment and activities they need to accomplish in their daily lives.

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05/13/2014

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The path to health and well-being is intricately linked to the daily occupations in which we choose toparticipate.The World Health Organization (WHO) defnes health as “a state o complete physical, mental andsocial well-being and not merely the absence o disease or infrmity” (WHO, 1948). In the InternationalClassifcation o Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) model, the WHO urther quantifes andmeasures health based on the ability o a person to participate in lie (WHO). Occupational therapy is aproession that ocuses on enabling clients to maximize their capacity to participate in lie activities thatare important and meaningul to them.With escalating health care costs and changing demographics in the United States, the U.S. Departmento Health and Human Services (HHS), has emphasized health promotion and disease prevention toimprove the lie expectancy, health and quality o lie o all Americans (HHS, 1998). Health promotion isa prevention strategy that allows people to manage and improve their overall health status. Occupationaltherapy practitioners play an important role in promoting health and preventing disease and disability(AOTA, 2008). Their unique perspective helps clients adapt and organize their daily occupations oractivities related to sel-care, home management, community participation, education, work and/orleisure into daily routines to prevent and minimize dysunction, promote and develop a healthy liestyle,and acilitate adaptation and recovery rom injury, disease, or developmental challenges.
Occupational Therapy and Health Promotion
Occupational therapy practitioners believe that“health is strongly inuenced by [individuals]having choice and control in everydayoccupations” (CAOT, 2002, p.31), and assuch, occupation is a determinant o health.“Occupations are purposeul and meaninguldaily activities that fll a person’s time” (AOTA,2008). These can be activities that individualsneed or want to do that relate to sel-care,play or leisure, their work and/or home, andcommunity-based tasks. Through participationin their daily occupations, individuals canpositively inuence their health (Wilcock, 2006).Occupational therapy practitioners are trained to view a person holistically in the context o their dailylives, across the liespan. For example, they can create health-promoting play activities or children toenhance physical well being, develop injury prevention programs or adult workers, or educate seniorson home and activity modifcations to prevent alls or identiy and provide adaptations to cars so thatseniors can drive more saely.
Occupational Therapy’s Role in
Health Promotion
www.aota.org4720 Montgomery Lane, PO Box 31220, Bethesda, MD 20842-1220Phone: 301-652-2682 TDD: 800-377-8555 Fax: 301-652-7711
 
Role o Occupational Therapy
Behavior patterns which can be inuenced by the environment, education, poverty, genetic disposition,and access to health care are the leading cause or poor health, disease, disability, and early death(McGinnis, Williams-Russo, & Knickman, 2002). Occupational therapy practitioners understand thecomplex and dynamic interactions between the person, their environment and activities they need toaccomplish in their daily lives. They also recognize the importance o habits and routines that promotethe adoption and maintenance o healthy behaviors. This enables the occupational therapy practitionerto acilitate success by matching the person’s skills to the demands o the activity, by utilizingenvironmental supports, by minimizing environmental barriers, and by oering solutions to challengesassociated with changing habits and routines.For example, a person who enjoyed gardening but gave up this meaningul activity due to back pain mayexperience improved well being i they can continue through adaptations such as raised gardens or longhandled tools to minimize strain on the back. Teaching someone to change positions requently and tolimit their time per day in the garden might be an alternate approach to improved health. Occupationaltherapy practitioners can identiy and address barriers between the client’s abilities and the demandso their daily lives at home and at work, thereby promoting a healthier liestyle. For example, anoccupational therapy practitioner working with a client with diabetes may teach techniques to monitorskin integrity and avoid skin breakdown, assist in establishing a daily meal intake schedule or propernutrition, and assist the client in locating an accessible community exercise program.
Who Can Beneft From Occupational Therapy toPromote Health?
Occupational therapy practitioners work with individuals acrossthe lie span, with populations and with organizations. Theywork with individuals and groups who have disabilities as wellas healthy individuals. Health promotion services occur invarious settings including, but not limited to, hospitals, skillednursing acilities, continuing care retirement centers, communityorganizations, schools, and workplaces. Occupational therapyservices related to health promotion are broad ranging romgeneral prevention strategies or a healthy population suchas backpack awareness day and car saety recommendationprograms or adult drivers to specifc health enhancing activitiesor individuals with chronic medical conditions. A studydone in Southern Caliornia on older residents o low incomehousing ound that occupational therapy was more eective inmaintaining and promoting a healthy and more independentliestyle than control groups that received either no services orsocial activity services only (Clark et al., 1997).
Occupational therapy enables people of all ages live life to its fullest by helping them to promote health, make lifestyle orenvironmental changes, and prevent—or live better with—injury, illness or disability. By looking at the whole picture—a client’spsychological, physical, emotional, and social make-up—occupational therapy assists people to achieve their goals, function atthe highest possible level, maintain or rebuild their independence and participate in the everyday activities of life.
 
Occupational therapy enables people of all ages live life to its fullest by helping them to promote health, make lifestyle orenvironmental changes, and prevent—or live better with—injury, illness or disability. By looking at the whole picture—a client’spsychological, physical, emotional, and social make-up—occupational therapy assists people to achieve their goals, function atthe highest possible level, maintain or rebuild their independence and participate in the everyday activities of life.
How do Occupational Therapy Practitioners Promote Health and Well-Being?
Occupational therapy practitioners:Perorm assessments or health risks related to potential oralls, saety in independent living, and cognitive/memoryscreens in older adultsEvaluate children or gross and fne motor defcits, sensoryprocessing or adaptive behavior dierences which mayresult in developmental delaysTeach strategies to incorporate healthy habits and routinesinto daily activities or clients o all ages and abilitiesIdentiy solutions to personal and environmental barrierslimiting clients rom engaging in healthy activitiesEducate about the importance o relaxation and rest toachieve balance between work and leisure; teach relaxationtechniquesProvide skills training in areas such as socialization, caregiving, parenting, time management, stress management,etc.Some examples o occupation-based health promotion programs:Community-based all prevention programs or seniorsWorkplace injury prevention and wellness programsErgonomic principles applied to computer workstations in schools and workplaces to decreaserepetitive motion and musculoskeletal disordersStress and anger management programs or children in juvenile detention programs.Parenting classes or teenage mothers, mothers in homeless shelters, or those recovering romdrug dependencyBackpack saety to prevent injury rom heavily loaded backpacks in school-age childrenSel-management programs to enable those with chronic diseases like diabetes, rheumatoidarthritis and cardiac conditions to optimize health through appropriate routines (modifcationswhen necessary) and participation in meaningul occupationsCarFit programs or drivers to match the needs o the driver with minor adaptations to the carCaregiver education to prevent injury and/or burnoutOccupational therapy promotes health and wellbeing through active involvement in meaninguloccupations. By helping clients eliminate barriers, enhance their sel-management skills, improve theirperormance o daily activities and adopt healthy habits and routines, occupational therapy unlocks thedoor to participation across the liespan.

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