Updated: Mar 30
A Brief History of Occupational Therapy
Many of you are familiar with occupational therapy. April is National Occupational Therapy Month and I love telling the story of how OT came to be.
Did you know that in the early day occupational therapy was referred to as "basket weavers"?
The concept of occupational therapy was formed in the 1800s in part due to the reform of mental health when there was a push for more humane treatment for those with mental illness.
The idea was that leisure pursuits, arts and crafts, and meaningful occupations could help those with mental health concerns.
During this time the benefit of engaging in meaningful occupations for those with mental illness became evident.
The term occupational therapy was first termed in 1914 by George Barton.
Around 1915 the first school of occupational therapy was created by Eleanor Clark Slagle
Occupational therapy expanded during World War 1 when OT helped soldiers with mental and physical challenges through the use of arts and crafts and daily activities.
With World War 2 occupational therapy further expanded to include more medical-based treatments in conjunction with meaningful occupations, leisure, and daily activities.
What makes occupational therapy different?
What makes occupational therapy different from physical therapy or speech therapy is the focus on "occupations". Occupations are meaningful activities that are different for each person. Occupational therapy uses activities that are meaningful to each person both as a treatment method and as a goal.
1. (If you are an artist and have a stroke) occupational therapy might have you use art as a form of therapy to regain your strength back.
2. (If you have arthritis and LOVE to cook) occupational therapy might help you adapt your kitchen setup and provide adaptive equipment so you can do the thing you love (cooking).
You are what you do:
Typically, people define themselves by the things they do and the things they love (I am a golfer, I am a social butterfly, I am a reader...). Sometimes the aging process or life happens that makes it hard to do the things you love to do. Occupational therapy helps you be and do you.
Jenny - OT