Other OT-Related Information How do you explain OT to other people?

silverwolf

7+ Year Member
May 27, 2010
28
15
Status
Pre-Occupational Therapy
When someone unfamiliar with OT asks you "what is occupational therapy?", what do you say?

My inclination is to say it's similar to PT but instead of focusing on strength and mobility, OT is more personalized and focuses on functionality. Then I give examples of how an OT and a PT would each help someone who suffered a hand injury.

I'm curious if anyone describes it differently. Is it okay to compare it to PT when explaining what OTs do? I have school interviews coming up and if this question comes up I want to make sure I answer correctly! Thank you in advance!
 
Jun 3, 2014
45
31
Status
Pre-Rehab Sci [General]
Hi Silverwolf

I mostly tell them that it the most patient centered profession that enables people to participate in the activities of their everyday life. And OTs achieve this by modifying the occupation or enhancing the environment around them to better support the person's occupational engagement. We work with people from all walks of life ( Kids, Adults and Geriatrics) with all types of body impairment structures like stroke, disability and people with mental health issues like Dementia. The theory behind occupational therapy is that the things we do every day are what make up our lives and that the small things we do make up our health and OTs help their clients achieve that using their innate creativity and of course the training given to them at OT school.

Hope this sounds good to you.
 
OP
S

silverwolf

7+ Year Member
May 27, 2010
28
15
Status
Pre-Occupational Therapy
Hi Silverwolf

I mostly tell them that it the most patient centered profession that enables people to participate in the activities of their everyday life. And OTs achieve this by modifying the occupation or enhancing the environment around them to better support the person's occupational engagement. We work with people from all walks of life ( Kids, Adults and Geriatrics) with all types of body impairment structures like stroke, disability and people with mental health issues like Dementia. The theory behind occupational therapy is that the things we do every day are what make up our lives and that the small things we do make up our health and OTs help their clients achieve that using their innate creativity and of course the training given to them at OT school.

Hope this sounds good to you.
That's very helpful, thank you @aluan150 !
 
Jul 13, 2013
145
81
Status
With all due respect, please don't compare it to PT! I feel like we already suffer those comparisons (you're like PT but for hands, arms, and shoulders, right?). We are the advocates of occupation...of all professionals on the health care spectrum, we are the ones who makes sure that people keep their daily activities, routines, and roles (or make new ones). I always like to start out by saying that daily life is actually really complex, but we don't find that out until we lose the ability to do our daily activities. The elevator speech is definitely an important element in advocating for our profession!
 
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Jan 21, 2015
36
11
Status
Occupational Therapy Student
So I had to take an Uber after class today. The driver asked me what I do, and I told him I was an Occupational Therapy student. He asked me if that involved giving aptitude tests. I politely said no and then proceeded to give him my elevator speech (see below).

Afterwards, he looks at me and says, "So your like a physical therapist for the mind". I smiled back and said, "Exactly!"

I think that it's a really intuitive description of OT especially from a layperson's point of view. Sure it was in comparison to PT, but people naturally have to anchor their understanding in the familiar before differentiating it in their minds.

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By the way, here is my elevator speech which was taken from an actual Buzzfeed article that I found ( http://www.buzzfeed.com/sallen913/what-the-f-is-occupational-therapy-naui )

To put it simply, occupational therapists help people across the lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities (occupations). An “occupation” does not necessarily mean a job or work. It is any activity a person does or wants to do. People who may benefit from occupational therapy include someone who has had a stroke, people with autism and other developmental disorders, people recovering from surgeries, people who suffer from depression or anxiety, as well as veterans and the elderly. ANYONE! Occupational Therapists work in many settings: hospitals, schools, nursing homes, rehab facilities, and with clients in their own homes. Occupational therapy helps people recover or develop skills needed for the activities of daily living (ADLs). ADLs can include self care, cooking, driving, shopping, and medication management. Occupational therapists help children to participate fully in school and play by working on things like pencil grip, social skills, learning techniques, and introducing adaptive equipment. OTs analyze activities to determine required body functions and environmental factors, and then break them down into manageable steps which are all grounded in theory and research. A simple task such as counting money may require cognitive abilities, vision, fine motor skills, and attention to the task. These are all areas OTs are trained to work in.
 
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Bokonomy

2+ Year Member
Apr 1, 2015
401
116
Status
Occupational Therapy Student
With all due respect, please don't compare it to PT! I feel like we already suffer those comparisons (you're like PT but for hands, arms, and shoulders, right?). We are the advocates of occupation...of all professionals on the health care spectrum, we are the ones who makes sure that people keep their daily activities, routines, and roles (or make new ones). I always like to start out by saying that daily life is actually really complex, but we don't find that out until we lose the ability to do our daily activities. The elevator speech is definitely an important element in advocating for our profession!
I dunno...in some environments, OTs are effectively PTs. I don't think it's unfair to explain it that way if you're in one of those environments. Sometimes you just don't have the time to go into detail.