The Importance of Occupational Therapy
Health is so much more than a lack of disease or infirmity. The importance of occupational therapy (OT) in helping individuals participating in everyday life continues to increase. But just what makes OT so important and why is there such an enhanced focus on it today?
Occupational Therapy Helps Promote Health while Preventing Disease
A healthy person should be capable of providing daily care for their self. An inability to perform some of the basic tasks of daily living, such as bathing, brushing the teeth, and eating, will lead to the development of illness rather quickly. For those individuals who are currently healthy, but unable to accomplish these basic tasks, Occupational Therapy is essential. The World Health Organization (WHO), along with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have begun promoting these preventative activities in order to decrease health costs while maximizing quality of life.
Occupational Therapy as a Method of Cost Reduction
With the recent developments in the global economy and the difficulty to provide healthcare to those who need it, Occupational Therapy is playing a more important role than ever. Individuals who are able to prevent basic diseases through daily occupations are less of a burden on the healthcare system. Since many of those in need of these services suffer from mental handicaps or old age, their ability to provide for themselves has long vanished. Occupational therapy minimizes their reliance on expensive health care procedures and prescription medicines. The cost to provide occupational therapy is known to be significantly less than surgery. Most of the leading occupational therapy schools now incorporate monetization of healthcare savings into the curriculum to teach the social and economic benefit as well as the human benefit.
Occupational Therapy and Quality of Life at the End of Life Cycle
The psychological effects of losing the ability to care for oneself are excruciating. For some, a lifetime of caring for the family ends with an inability to perform the basic functions required on a daily basis. For our elderly, being able to use the toilet, brush ones hair, or feed the self are all small tasks that allow some semblance of independence. Without the ability to perform these tasks, many of our elderly would be total reliant on others for survival. Depression is common amongst individuals who are unable to handle basic, daily functions. A 1997 study in California proved that occupational therapy was more successful in maintaining health and independence than social services alone.
Occupational Therapy and Mental Health
When utilized in a mental health facility, occupational therapists help their patients develop the skills needed for independent and interdependent living. Using goal oriented activities, these patients learn skills such as assertiveness, problem solving skills, independent living skills, interpersonal skills, stress management, and more. These activities may be beneficial to those suffering from mental retardation, psychological trauma (such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), or brain injuries. Without the help of an occupational therapist, many of these individuals would be stuck in a life reliant on others for survival.
Ultimately, it is the role of the occupational therapist to maintain health and independence. The benefits to both the individual and society cannot be understated. Occupational therapists enable a happier, more independent lifestyle for those who would otherwise need others to care for them. Our next page provides more specific details on What Occupational Therapists Do.
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