Occupational therapy can cause a lot of confusion for those outside of the field and looking in. Most people think occupational therapy has one specific description, when in reality OT seems to embody many different tasks! Occupational therapy is used to help many diverse people in a variety of situations. There are myths about almost everything on the planet, so we’ve put together a list of the most common occupational therapy myths out there.
Here are a few:
There are people out there that believe the term “occupational therapy” to be literal. Some think that OT is to help people with their occupation or to find jobs, which isn’t necessarily the case. Occupational therapy is treatment that pinpoints helping patient’s to improve the independence needed to fulfill every day tasks. The end goal depends on what is important to the patient and what they would like to accomplish in order to lead a successful life, therefore OTs help guide patients until they have successfully met their goals.
One of the most popular OT myths out there is that occupational therapy is specifically for the disabled population. False, false, false!! Occupational therapists work with people of all ages and abilities. OTs can provide assistance to anyone from newborn babies showing abnormal development patterns, children struggling to learn how to tie their shoes, a 29-year-old with a broken hand, to stroke victims learning to get dressed again. Occupational therapy is far from concentrated on helping only disabled people.
Another common misconception is that occupational and physical therapy are the same. Occupational therapy focuses on the needs of a patient in order for them to live an independent life. Some things an OT may help a patient with are getting dressed, accomplishing daily household tasks, work, and enjoy leisure activities. Physical therapists focus on improving individuals gross motor skills and mobility while OTs focus on fine motor skills, like improving everyday tasks. Both do, however, have a common goal, which is to improve every patient’s quality of life!
Some people think that occupational therapists are limited to working at hospitals. This is false! Occupational therapists are able to work in a large variety of settings. Some examples of places OTs can work are: outpatient clinics, nursing facilities, schools, or private patient homes.
Usually, when people think of sensory activities to help children, they also think of creating a huge mess. What if I told you that sensory play doesn’t have to mean getting your hands dirty? You don’t have to narrow sensory activities for kids to their hands, when they experience the world with their entire bodies! Draw attention to everyday life experiences and play that way. Activities that engage all of the senses are crucial! The key is to form a healthy integration among all five of the senses so children can develop coordinated bodies, listening skills, interact appropriately with their peers and environment, and still learn how to remain calm and focused when needed.