7 Things About Occupational Therapy That You Probably Didn’t Know!

April is Occupational Therapy Month!

To help celebrate our Occupational Therapists and Therapy Staff, this month’s blog is going to focus on facts, history and overall information about occupational therapy that you probably didn’t know before reading.

1. How Occupational Therapy began…

Though other OT applications were used much earlier, occupational therapy in the sense that we see and use it today began in the early 1900s. Eleanor Clark Slagle, “the mother of occupational therapy”, structured the first OT program in 1915. Occupational therapy was originally used with mentally ill and disabled patients to improve basic activities of daily living (ADLs), but following WWI and WWII, occupational therapy was used to treat wounded soldiers and regain their level of funtioning, further substantiating its importance in the medical world. Occupational therapy has continued to evolve ever since and has expanded to more service lines and settings than ever before.

2. Educational requirements to become an Occupational Therapist:

The occupational therapy program and it’s requirements have changed over the years. Previously, a bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy or a similar program would suffice to obtain a license. However, since 2007, in order to become a licensed occupational therapist students must obtain a masters or doctorate degree. Prospective occupational therapists must also complete several hours of field work in various OT settings and eventually, obtain a license by passing the National Board for Certification of Occupational Therapists (NBCOT) exam.

Overall, you’re looking at a minimum of 6 years of schooling with a 4 year bachelor’s degree and a 2 year masters program.

3. The role of a Certified Hand Therapist in Occupational Therapy and the extensive education necessary to become one:

A Certified Hand Therapist (CHT) is an occupational therapist (or physical therapist) who has specialized in upper extremity rehabilitation. In order to become a CHT, the therapist must be out of school for at least 3 years (previously 5) and have accumulated 2+ years (or 4,000 hours!) of direct practice in upper extremity rehab. Once these requirements have been met, candidates are now eligible to take a rigorous national exam. In order to maintain this certification, Certified Hand Therapists must stay up to date on the latest surgical techniques and therapy principles and attend several education courses each year.

For those keeping score, you’re up to at least 9 years of schooling and work experience in order to become a Certified Hand Therapist!

4. OT, COTA and CHT stats in Michigan:

It is estimated that there are over 4,000 licensed Occupational Therapists and Occupational Therapy Assistants and over 200 Certified Hand Therapists in the state of Michigan. If you’re interested in being treated by a Certified Hand Therapist for your hand rehabilitation needs, you can find your closest one by visiting the Hand Therapy Certification Commission website https://www.htcc.org/find-a-cht

5. Not all therapies are the same!

Many people do not know the difference between occupational therapy and physical therapy. While some of the areas of the body overlap between the 2 types, the main difference is the goal for each. Physical therapy does focus on the “big bones” or larger body parts, like legs, shoulders, hips and back, while occupational therapy is often more focused on the intricate movements and fine motor skills of the hands and wrist. In general, physical therapy also focuses on improving overall mobility, while the goal of occupational therapy is to enabling patients to complete daily activities that they find at home and in the workplace.

6. The different healthcare settings where you’ll find an Occupational Therapist:

Occupational therapy is not restricted to an independent clinic (like Motus); it can be found in many medical settings!

Clinic– In a typical outpatient clinic, patients come into the office for scheduled visits based on the physician prescription and therapist recommendations. They work on strength and conditioning to achieve a level of functionality prior to injury. Occupational therapy in this setting is either used post surgery or as a surgical alternative. The patient’s daily activities as well as their work setting are all factors when creating the proper treatment plan. Typically, a course of treatment can take place over 2-3 sessions a week for 4-6 weeks.

Hospital– In an inpatient, acute hospital setting, occupational therapy is used to help reach a certain level of function independent of the patient’s hospital diagnosis. Goals are quick, easy tasks to help the patient reach the ability to return home with or without assistance.

Rehabilitation/ Skilled Nursing– In an inpatient rehab or SNF setting, occupational therapists work with patients to achieve a greater level of functionality before returning home or to the next rehab facility. These goals focus on activities of daily living (ADLs), like being able to live at home alone with the ability to cook, clean and take care of themselves. These facilities often house the patient for several weeks at a time, making the therapy sessions longer, but with the ability to take things slow.

7. Occupational Therapy may also exist in your child’s school!

Did you know? Occupational therapists also exist within school systems! Often times, OTs and COTAs in schools not only help young students with fine motor skills and academic achievement, but also social skills, behavioral issues and recreational activities. They design programs unique to each student to emphasize their strengths and work on the areas where they need extra attention.

To learn more about our therapists, locations and therapy programs or to schedule an Occupational Therapy appointment, contact us on our website or call 833-GO-MOTUS.







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