OT Myths: “Time for Grilled Cheese School!”
by Kelly Patrick
My grandfather was the type of person that would do anything you asked, and when he was in the hospital undergoing rehabilitation this was no exception. He patiently did everything the therapists asked him to do: get in and out of bed, walk down the hall and back to his room, and complete various memory challenges. However, when occupational therapy asked him to make a grilled cheese sandwich, he drew the line. He refused to go back to OT. I had to explain to him what occupational therapy was and why it was important to him being able to go home and take care of my grandma. Read on for some common OT myths debunked. Hopefully you will see that occupational therapy is more than just “grilled cheese school.”
OT Myth #1
Occupational therapy will help me find a job!
Occupational therapy helps people across the lifespan to do the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of daily activities (occupations). Occupational therapy practitioners enable people of all ages to live life to its fullest by helping them promote health, and prevent—or live better with—injury, illness, or disability. (American Occupational Therapy Association)
OT Myth #2
Occupational therapy is the same as physical therapy, right?
Occupational therapy focuses on improving a person’s ability to complete activities of daily living (ADL’s). Occupational therapy’s holistic approach addresses a person’s participation in activities as well as their roles and interaction with their environment. Physical therapy focuses on improving how a person moves the human body by addressing the physical impairment through exercise, massage or pain reduction techniques.
OT Myth #3
Occupational therapy only works on the arms and upper body.
This common misconception may have come from an occupational therapy specialty-hand therapy. Occupational therapy addresses activities of daily living that involve coordination of the arms, legs, torso and even the brain.
OT Myth #4
Occupational therapists just work with the elderly and kids with special needs.
Occupational therapists address problems that occur across the lifespan. They are qualified to treat people from birth to 100 + years old with a wide variety of diagnoses. They are experts at teaching others how to cope and adapt to various challenges that may occur (whether from injury or chronic illness) with a focus on active participation in daily activities to promote independence and the highest quality of life.
OT Myth #5
Occupational therapists just work on “going to the bathroom and getting dressed.”
As the ‘grilled cheese’ example above illustrates, occupational therapy addresses more than just dressing and toileting! OT’s work on a lot of different things including: fine motor skills (writing, picking up a paper from a table); ADLs (bathing, dressing, toileting, eating); homemaking (cleaning, making meals, laundry); positioning (seated or in bed); mobility (using a walker to maneuver around the house, using a wheelchair); transfers (to and from a chair or toilet) and use of adaptive equipment to complete any of the above.