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What is Occupational Therapy?

By Lauren Foronda, OTR/L

"What's OT? Overtime?" "So you can help me get a job?" These are questions I get numerous times when I tell anybody that I'm an occupational therapist (OT). Many are still unaware of what exactly occupational therapy is or that the profession even exists. Although there is a lack of awareness, occupational therapy started to become what it is today in the early 1900s. The word occupation is typically associated with a job. However, in the world of occupational therapy, occupation means activities that are meaningful, important, and bring purpose to an individual's life.

"Occupational therapy practitioners ask, 'what matters to you', not, 'what's the matter with you?'" - Virginia "Ginny" Stoffel, former American Occupational Therapy Association President

Artwork by Chris Rodriguez

Occupational Therapists (OTs) work with individuals across the lifespan with various diagnoses to improve their functional abilities. This can be related to physical, cognitive, social, and psychological aspects of life. OTs aim to help their patients become more independent with their daily activities that they need, want, and are expected to do. These activities include dressing, bathing, eating, toileting, and hygiene and grooming. OTs are concerned with the health and well being of their patients. The ultimate goal is to improve an individual's quality of life. OTs can be seen working in a variety of settings such as schools, hospitals, patients' homes, skilled nursing facilities, and private clinics.

You may still be asking yourself, "When or why would I need occupational therapy?" As an outpatient OT at Central Care Physical Therapy, I typically see adults with neurological and orthopedic diagnoses. These conditions include, but are not limited to, carpal tunnel syndrome, stroke, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, arthritis, tendonitis, elbow/wrist/hand sprains and fractures, finger amputation, changes due to an accident or injury, and after surgery on your elbow/wrist/hand. Treatment includes exercises, activities, and modalities that can help you with your movement, strength, coordination and decrease your pain. Together we will work on your desired goals and help you perform activities that are important to you, whether it be wanting to get back to baking or just simply getting dressed without pain or assistance. Come to Central Care Physical Therapy, where we can help you get back in the game



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