As an Occupational Therapy student, I’ve experienced being asked what Occupational Therapy is. I’m starting to think that it is a rite of passage or something that folks should ask you what OT is and you should be able to explain it clearly. But there was this particularly rude but legit question; “What is Occupational Therapy and who invented it?”
It really affronts me not only because another person asked me what OT is, but also because I don’t know how to answer the question. So I decided to find out who/why was Occupational Therapy invented in the first place to prove others who doesn’t know what program this is that this program is a significant program. I’ve searched high and low of Google to find the answer to my—and the person who asked me—‘s question, and I found one. The contributor of the website seemed to be in my state when she wrote the article, only her reason was because she was often compared to the Physical Therapists. So I’m adding this too as my reason, so we can elucidate those who are perplex of the two programs.
According to most of the results in my research, Occupational Therapy came about during the 1st World War where when the US Army had so many soldiers injured that they were even warehoused and being given exercises by PTs to strengthen them, although many of them were so debilitated mentally and emotionally that a “reconstruction aid” got the idea to help them with activities akin to painting/ woodworking/ gardening and incorporate those movements that would accomplish the use of the body in the way the “uninspiring” exercises would.
But some say that Occupational Therapy goes way back in the 1700s—which I assume will astound those who presumed that Occupational Therapy is new profession. During these times, problems evolve around the “infirmed” and the mentally ill. Those who are classified under the latter are treated like prisoners; locked up and considered a danger to the society. So some lad named William Tuke founded a retreat center in England where he encouraged patients to learn and grow by engaging them in a variety of employment or “amusements” that were best adapted to their level of functioning and interests.
There is more to the history of Occupational Therapy, but fast forward to the present day, Physical Therapy provides the basic needs and Occupational Therapy reinforces that like applying it to functional activities the person/patient needs to “do” to get back to being as close to their capacity as possible.
Occupational Therapy is important for the sole reason that it helps people on getting back on their own feet after a fall down or a step-back, if it wasn’t for the invention of this program, the majority of the population would be demented and closed in an asylum, without a second chance to be treated as normal.