Occupational Therapy day is celebrated annually on October 27. The purpose of National Occupational Therapy day is to educate the public and give an insight concerning the valuable work which is done by occupational therapists.
Occupational therapy (OT) is the use of assessment and intervention to develop, recover, or maintain the meaningful activities, or occupations, of individuals, groups, or communities. It is an allied health profession performed by occupational therapists and Occupational Therapy Assistants. OTs often work with people with mental health problems, disabilities, injuries, or impairments. The American Occupational Therapy Association defines an occupational therapist as someone who “helps people across the lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities (occupations). Common occupational therapy interventions include helping children with disabilities to participate fully in school and social situations, injury rehabilitation, and providing supports for older adults experiencing physical and cognitive changes.” occupational therapists are university-educated professionals and must pass a licensing exam to practice. Occupational therapists often work closely with professionals in physical therapy, speech therapy, audiology, nursing, social work, clinical psychology, and medicine.
The earliest evidence of using occupations as a method of therapy can be found in ancient times. In c. 100 BCE, Greek physician Asclepiades treated patients with a mental illness humanely using therapeutic baths, massage, exercise, and music. Later, the Roman Celsus prescribed music, travel, conversation and exercise to his patients. However, by medieval times the use of these interventions with people with mental illness was rare, if not nonexistent. In 18th-century Europe, revolutionaries such as Philippe Pinel and Johann Christian Reil reformed the hospital system. Instead of the use of metal chains and restraints, their institutions used rigorous work and leisure activities in the late 18th century. This was the Moral Treatment era, developed in Europe during the Age of Enlightenment, where the roots of occupational therapy lie. Although it was thriving in Europe, interest in the reform movement fluctuated in the United States throughout the 19th century however during the 20th century is became Occupational Therapy. The Arts and Crafts movement that took place between 1860 and 1910 also impacted occupational therapy. In the US, a recently industrialized country, the arts and crafts societies emerged against the monotony and lost autonomy of factory work. Arts and crafts were used as a way of promoting learning through doing, provided a creative outlet, and served as a way to avoid boredom during long hospital stays.
Eleanor Clarke Slagle (1870-1942) is considered to be the “mother” of occupational therapy. Slagle, who was one of the founding members of the National Society for the Promotion of Occupational Therapy (NSPOT), proposed habit training as a primary occupational therapy model of treatment. Based on the philosophy that engagement in meaningful routines shape a person’s wellbeing, habit training focused on creating structure and balance between work, rest and leisure. Although habit training was initially developed to treat individuals with mental health conditions, its basic tenets are apparent in modern treatment models that are utilized across a wide scope of client populations. In 1915 Slagle opened the first occupational therapy training program, the Henry B. Favill School of Occupations, at Hull House in Chicago. Slagle went on to serve as both AOTA president and secretary. In 1954, AOTA created the Eleanor Clarke Slagle Lectureship Award in her honor. Each year, this award recognizes a member of AOTA “who has who has creatively contributed to the development of the body of knowledge of the profession through research, education, and/or clinical practice.”
The health profession of occupational therapy was conceived in the early 1910s as a reflection of the Progressive Era. Early professionals merged highly valued ideals, such as having a strong work ethic and the importance of crafting with one’s own hands with scientific and medical principles. The National Society for the Promotion of Occupational Therapy (NSPOT), now called the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), was founded in 1917 and the profession of Occupational Therapy was officially named in 1921. William Rush Dunton, one of the founders of NSPOT and visionary figure in the first decades of the profession struggled with “the cumbersomeness of the term occupational therapy”, as it lacked the “exactness of meaning which is possessed by scientific terms”. Other titles such as “work-cure”,”ergo therapy”(ergo being the greek root for “work”), and “creative occupations” were discussed as substitutes, but ultimately, none possessed the broad meaning that the practice of occupational therapy demanded in order to capture the many forms of treatment that existed from the beginning.
The emergence of occupational therapy challenged the views of mainstream scientific medicine. Instead of focusing purely on the medical model, occupational therapists argued that a complex combination of social, economic, and biological reasons cause dysfunction. Principles and techniques were borrowed from many disciplines—including but not limited to physical therapy, nursing, psychiatry, rehabilitation, self-help, orthopedics, and social work—to enrich the profession’s scope. Between 1900 and 1930, the founders defined the realm of practice and developed supporting theories. By the early 1930s, AOTA had established educational guidelines and accreditation procedures.
The early twentieth century was a time in which the rising incidence of disability related to industrial accidents, tuberculosis, World War I, and mental illness brought about an increasing social awareness of the issues involved. The entry of the United States into World War I was also a crucial event in the history of the profession. Up until this time, occupational therapy had been concerned primarily with the treatment of people with mental illness. However, U.S. involvement in the Great War and the escalating numbers of injured and disabled soldiers presented a daunting challenge to those in command. The military enlisted the assistance of NSPOT to recruit and train over 1,200 “reconstruction aides” to help with the rehabilitation of those wounded in the war. With entry into World War II and the ensuing skyrocketing demand for occupational therapists to treat those injured in the war, the field of occupational therapy underwent dramatic growth and change. Occupational therapists needed to be skilled not only in the use of constructive activities such as crafts, but also increasingly in the use of activities of daily living.
There was a struggle to keep people in the profession during the post-war years. Emphasis shifted from the altruistic war-time mentality to the financial, professional, and personal satisfaction that comes with being a therapist. To make the profession more appealing, practice was standardized, as was the curriculum. Entry and exit criteria were established, and the American Occupational Therapy Association advocated for steady employment, decent wages, and fair working conditions. Via these methods, occupational therapy sought and obtained medical legitimacy in the 1920s. The 1920s and 1930s were a time of establishing standards of education and laying the foundation of the profession and its organization. Eleanor Clarke Slagle proposed a 12-month course of training in 1922, and these standards were adopted in 1923. Educational standards were expanded to a total training time of 18-months in 1930 to place the requirements for professional entry on par with those of other professions. The first textbook was published in United States for occupational therapy in 1947, edited by Helen S. Willard and Clare S. Spackman. The profession continued to grow and redefine itself in the 1950s. The profession also began to assess the potential for the use of trained assistants in the attempt to address the ongoing shortage of qualified therapists, and educational standards for occupational therapy assistants were implemented in 1960.
During The 1960s and 1970s Occupational Therapy changed and grew as new knowledge was incorperated and developments in the areas of neurobehavioral research led to new treatments, including the sensory integrative approach developed by A. Jean Ayers. As technology has increased the profession has Also grown and expanded its scope and settings of practice. Occupational science, the study of occupation, was created in 1989 as a tool for providing evidence-based research to support and advance the practice of occupational therapy, as well as offer a basic science to study topics surrounding “occupation”.
Mental health and moral treatment can also be improved with the use of occupational therapy. According to the World Health Organization, mental illness is one of the fastest growing forms of disability. OTs focus on prevention and treatment of mental illness in all populations. In the U.S., military personnel and veterans are populations that can benefit from occupational therapy, but currently this is an under served practice area. Occupational therapy practitioner’s roles have expanded to include political advocacy (from a grassroots base to higher legislation); The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act had a habilitation clause that was passed in large part due to AOTA’s political efforts. Many Occupational therapy practitioners have been striving personally and professionally toward concepts of occupational justice and other human rights issues that have both local and global impacts. The World Federation of Occupational Therapist’s Resource Centre has many position statements on occupational therapy’s roles regarding their participation in human rights issues at http://www.wfot.org/ResourceCentre.aspx.
Other Holidays and National Days for 27 October are listed below.
• American Beer Day.
• Boxer Shorts Day.
• Cranky Co-Workers Day.
• National Forgiveness Day.
• National Potato Day.
• Navy Day.