Role o Occupational Therapy
Behavior patterns which can be inuenced 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 oering solutions to challengesassociated with changing habits and routines.For example, a person who enjoyed gardening but gave up this meaningul 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 identiy and address barriers between the client’s abilities and the demandso their daily lives at home and at work, thereby promoting a healthier liestyle. 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 lie 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 saety recommendationprograms or adult drivers to specifc health enhancing activitiesor individuals with chronic medical conditions. A studydone in Southern Caliornia on older residents o low incomehousing ound that occupational therapy was more eective inmaintaining and promoting a healthy and more independentliestyle 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.