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news News Monday, April 15, 2019 Tuesday, April 9, 2019 2:20 PM - Tuesday, April 9, 2019 2:20 PM

Why occupational therapy?

Occupational therapists at Shriners Hospitals for Children are transforming lives and building independence

Why occupational therapy?

By Theresa Golley, O.T.D., MBA

April is National Occupational Therapy Month! A common myth is that occupational therapists help patients find jobs or employment. This can be confusing, especially when a child sees an occupational therapist. The purpose of an occupational therapist is to get patients back to the job or “occupation” of life. For kids, this means activities that include play, school and self-care. The goal of occupational therapists at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Salt Lake City is to help children live life to the fullest by helping them to develop, recover, improve or maintain their skills. Occupational therapists look at the whole child and focus on adapting the environment and/or task to fit the child, not the child to fit the task.

At the Salt Lake City Shriners Hospital, occupational therapists are a vital part of the rehabilitation team. A child’s “occupation” is to grow into adulthood and adapt to the demands of their environment. The occupational therapist’s role is to understand the child and how they interact with their environment, and help them meet their potential. Children come to see an occupational therapist for a variety of reasons. Some of those reasons include learning to increase independence with activities of daily life (eating, bathing, dressing, grooming), getting a limb splinted, and developing fine motor skills needed for activities such as handwriting, cutting, drawing and lacing. Occupational therapists help with equipment needs like tools to compensate when full function cannot be achieved. They can also help with adaptive equipment such as bath chairs, toilet chairs, activity/feeding chairs and beds in order to be safely and properly positioned.

As we celebrate occupational therapists this month, ask yourself how you might adjust if something changed with how you interact with your environment. What if you could no longer use your dominant hand? How would you cut your food, get dressed, wash your hair or ride a bike? Remember that occupational therapists problem-solve those challenges. They find a way to give patients the ability to meet their best potential and independence, and the kids they work with work hard to achieve those important milestones!

Patient and family member, therapist

Pictured: (top right) Parker focuses on eating skills with his occupational therapist, Theresa Golley, (bottom) Edgar learns to tie a tie from occupational therapist Roxann Beauregard and her helper, Rodrigo.