Opinion

Occupational Therapy celebrates a large milestone

To the editor:

The history of occupational therapy in the United States begins with the founding of the Society for the Promotion of Occupational Therapy (now, the American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc.) in March of 1917. The creation of the society was in response to the need for moral treatment of people with mental illness, the advancement of scientific medicine for prolonging life expectancies, and the curative properties of arts and crafts and everyday purposeful activity.

Occupational therapy gained societal recognition during World War I when the sick and wounded soldiers were provided with treatment during a time when occupational therapists were previously called reconstruction aides.

Occupational therapy has additionally played a prominent role during epidemics by providing treatment for patients with tuberculosis and polio. With improved survival rates during WW II, occupational therapy services gained demand, educational programs blossomed and the profession flourished.

Today, there are more than 200,000 occupational therapists employed in the United States working with clients throughout the lifespan in a variety of practice settings. A recent article published in Medical Care Research and Review found occupational therapy (OT) to have effects on “both the clinical and social determinants of health” and note that “investing in OT has the potential to improve care quality without significantly increasing overall hospital spending” related to chronic disease management and hospital readmission rates and cost. The profession will continue to fight for the needs of our clients in regards to access to health care to promote “skills for the job of living.”

Here in Maine, there are more than 1,500 occupational therapy practitioners who are serving the needs of Maine’s residents. The Maine Occupational Therapy Association (MeOTA) is a grass-roots professional organization to help support practitioners in their ability to provide quality, evidence-based care across the lifespan.

Help us celebrate 100 years! Tell your friends about occupational therapy and find more information about this profession at www.aota.org and www.meota.org.

Jessica J Bolduc DrOT, MSOTR/L

Volunteer Leader

Maine Occupational Therapy Association

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