Most occupational therapists will spend their career debunking common myths and explaining what an occupational therapist actually does. At Encompass Health, it is clear that we not only understand what OTs do for our patients and their families, but we place a high value on this work. Occupational therapists engage patients in activities that are meaningful to them, with the goal of returning them to independent lives filled with activities they love.
A bit of history
The occupational therapy profession originated from the early mental health reforms of the 20th century. It was theorized and proved that patients with purposeful occupations were more likely to recover and be able to reintegrate with society. World War I veterans were among the primary recipients of early occupational therapy, which helped them integrate into civilian life at home.
The treatment of wounded soldiers in WWI and subsequent wars would solidify the value of OT and help establish the profession. The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) was founded in 1917 to bring standards of care and scientific research to this new field.
The impact of OTs
Encompass Health OTs create individual functional treatment plans for patients by engaging them in instrumental activities of daily living (iADLS). Common iADLS include medication management, meal preparation, shopping in the community, money management and nutrition planning. These iADLS contribute to patients’ long-term wellbeing and ability to function independently.
Occupational therapy tactics at Encompass Health hospitals pivoted in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Behavior changes such as social distancing, mask-wearing and virtual meetings altered the role of all occupational therapists. During the COVID-19 pandemic, our OTs have proven more creative than ever—focusing on electronic instrumental activities of daily living (e-iADLS) such as online shopping, virtual family visitation, spiritual services, holiday celebrations and more. Teaching our patients how to navigate these digital platforms enhances their quality of life beyond our hospital walls.
Occupational therapy is a critical service for patients that have experienced a trauma to their health and a roadblock to independent living. At Encompass Health, OT is a critical service offered to patients as an element of their overall plan of care.