Occupational Therapy Month: Occupations

Occupational Therapy Month: Occupations

“O” is for occupations!

As implied by the name, occupational therapists work with individuals on fulfilling their meaningful and necessary occupations. Occupations are what you engage in every day, by need or by choice. These include activities of daily living (ADLs), instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs), rest & sleep, education, work, leisure, play, and social participation. Within each or these occupations lies specifics which are listed below for your viewing pleasure. Occupations are what OTs address. OTs work to promote independence within an individual’s necessary and meaningful occupations.


ADLs – feeding, eating, toileting, bathing, dressing, functional mobility, sex, personal hygiene

IADLs – care of others, care of pets, health maintenance/management, home maintenance/management, money management, meal preparation, safety

Rest & sleep – participation in rest & sleep

Education – formal & informal participation, education exploration

Work – seeking employment interests, work participation

Play – play exploration & participation

Leisure – leisure exploration & participation

Social participation – with family, friends/peers, and the community

What are some of your necessary and meaningful occupations?

Occupational Therapy Month: NBCOT

Occupational Therapy Month: NBCOT

“N” is for NBCOT – the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy.

As of right now, I am an OTS (occupational therapy student). After I complete my didactic work and both Level II fieldworks, I will sit for my boards to become an OTR (registered occupational therapist). In order for my to “earn my R” I have to pass the NBCOT exam. The NBCOT is the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy. The NBCOT is the governing body of registered OTs. In order for be to add those three little letters to the end of my name, I have to pass the NBCOT. No pressure. After I earn my “R”, I will apply for licensure in whichever states I want to practice. Once I obtain licensure I will be an OTR/L. So fancy!

I will probably be taking the NBCOT at the end of winter in 2021. I still have A LOT to learn between now and 2021, so this is a fleeting thought in my mind right now. I just wanted to explain the process to the Internet about what actually needs to be done in order for me to become an OT because I still feel like there’s a lot of confusion. I hope this has cleared things up. Happy Thursday!


Occupational Therapy Month: Mental Health

Occupational Therapy Month: Mental Health

“M” is for mental health!

As discussed in earlier letters of the alphabet, OTs work with a variety of diagnoses, some of which include mental health. OTs can work with individuals with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, depression, PTSD, and addictions, among countless others. OTs who work with these populations can work in community-based settings, in-patient settings, psychiatric hospitals, or prisons.

Even though some OTs specialize in the mental health field, because our continuum of care services is so broad, OTs in all settings may work with individuals with mental health diagnoses. OTs always view clients holistically; therefore, it is our responsibility to address mental health issues during treatment, if applicable.

For example, consider an individual who just had a stroke. He/she has lost significant independence in many occupations, including independently dressing, cooking, and playing tennis. An OT will teach them compensatory techniques for dressing, provide adaptive equipment for cooking and tennis in addition to addressing mental health issues that has recently developed because of the sudden change independence levels. If the individual is demonstrating signs of depression, we address it. If the individual is showing signs of anxiety to return home, we address it. What ever is happening “up there”, we can address it!

Mental health has effected everyone’s life in some shape or form whether directly or indirectly. OTs always treat clients holistically; therefore, it is an important aspect of our role as health care professionals.

Occupational Therapy Month: Leisure

Occupational Therapy Month: Leisure

“L” is for leisure – one of my favorite occupations to engage in!

Defined by the American Occupational Therapy Association (2014), leisure is “nonobligatory activity that is intrinsically motivated and engaged in during discretionary time”. In simple terms, leisure is what you engage in during your free time or for fun.

Leisure is important for self-care. Leisure can help us unwind after a stressful day. Leisure can provide us with opportunities to build relationships with others. Leisure can bring meaning and growth to our lives. Leisure can be healthy…and unhealthy.

For me, unsurprisingly, my two favorite leisure activities are running or biking. Engaging in these forms of leisure helps me destress, has provided me with countless friendships, and is healthy for my body. These activities are meaningful to me and I hope that they will be my favorite leisure activity for years to come!

What’s your favorite leisure activity?

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Occupational Therapy Month: Knowledge

Occupational Therapy Month: Knowledge

“K” is for “knowledge”.

OTs acquire an array of knowledge in order to work with ages across the lifespan within a variety of settings. Currently, occupational therapy is an entry-level Master’s profession.

Graduate school provides education for all populations – pediatrics, adults, older adults for developmental diagnoses, physical diagnoses, and mental health diagnoses. Graduate school provides future OT practitioners with the general knowledge to work with any population in any setting; however, most OTs find a niche after grad school to develop unique, speciality skills within certain areas of practice.

That’s what makes OT unique! We can work with anyone and anywhere! The knowledge we acquire in graduate school sets up to pursue a career wherever we want which is super exciting. Additionally, OTs can switch populations/settings whenever they desire because their foundational knowledge will always be intact!

What knowledge have you gained so far from the ABCs of OT?!


Occupational Therapy Month: Just-Right Challenge

Occupational Therapy Month: Just-Right Challenge

Letter “j” is for the just-right challenge!

Occupational therapists are apparently masters of just-right challenges. A just-right challenge is exactly what it sounds like. It’s something that’s not too easy, nor too hard. The purpose of the just-right challenge is to give clients something that is within their current ability level. If the activity is too easy, they’ll assume we think they are incompetent and they’ll become bored and/or offended. If the activity is too hard, they may feel degraded, losing their belief in themselves to achieve what is meaningful to them.

With that in mind, it’s important to provide a just-right challenge. Not too easy. Not too hard. Somewhere in the middle. Somewhere where we can provide just enough challenge to promote continued growth in their ability.

Occupational Therapy Month: Independence

Occupational Therapy Month: Independence

Today is letter “I”. One of the most important “I” occupational therapy words is INDEPENDENCE!

OTs strive for client independence. This profession promotes independence in all areas of life. For the pediatric population, this might mean helping a child reach their developmental milestones so that they can move independently to explore and play. For the adult population, this might mean provide environmental control adaptations to spinal cord injury clients so that they can independently scroll through TV channels with their voice rather than using a remote. Car adaptations can be made so that an individual with double below-the-knee amputations can independently drive themselves to church, the grocery store, or a loved one’s house. An older adult recovering from total hip replacement may be taught how to use a sock donner so they can independently dress themselves. The list could go on forever, trust me.

Independence is the ultimate goal!

Occupational Therapy Month: Homonymous Hemianopsia

Occupational Therapy Month: Homonymous Hemianopsia

Today is letter “h” so I get to teach you about my favorite medical term to pronounce – homonymous hemianopsia (also known as homonymous hemianopia – without the “s”).

Homonymous hemianopsia is a condition involving loss of part of the visual field. To break it down, “homonymous” means “same side”. “Hemi-” means half. “Anopsia”means “defect in the visual field”. When you put it all together you have visual field defect on the same side of each half of the eye. The lack of peripheral sight of one side of both eyes becomes problematic in many instances.

As an example and from a clinical standpoint, an individual with homonymous hemianopsia could have have a visual defect within the right side of both eyes. The individual can’t see anything on their right side unless they move their entire head to utilize the left half of the eye. In other words, they “forget” about anything on the right. An individual with homonymous hemianopsia may be observed only eating food on the left side of their plate, completing neglecting the food on the right side of the plate. They may bump into walls that they don’t notice. Cutting vegetables with a knife in the right hand and the vegetable stabilized with the left hand becomes dangerous.

Occupational therapists can help individuals with homonymous hemianopsia by teaching them compensatory techniques. OTs can teach individuals with this visual field defect to turn their head/body to scan their entire environment.

Check out the picture below to get an understanding of homonymous hemianopsia. The picture on the left represents normal sight with no visual field deficits. The picture on the right represents an individual with right-sided homonymous hemianopsia. Do you see how this could be problematic?


Occupational Therapy Month: Gait

Occupational Therapy Month: Gait

Letter “g” is for GAIT!

From an occupational therapy standpoint, gait promotes functional mobility. For individuals who can walk, gait provides opportunities to explore the environment and complete tasks within the environment as needed.

It important to note that occupational therapists look at gait from a functional perspective. Is the individual able to ambulate to the bathroom without falling? Can they move around the kitchen to prepare a meal? Can a child ambulate from the classroom to the bus or playground? Gait assessments and gait improvements are in the realm of physical therapy, not OT; therefore, gait issues alone should be referred to PT. From a functional standpoint, OTs investigate how one’s gait affects one’s ability to complete necessary and meaningful tasks.

I leave you today with a picture of my friends walking (proper gait and all) which from a functional standpoint allowed them to get from lunch back to class.



Occupational Therapy Month: Fieldwork

Occupational Therapy Month: Fieldwork

Conveniently, letter “f” falls on the last day of my first Level I fieldwork placement. To celebrate, I’m posting that “f” is for fieldwork!

“Fieldwork” is the OT school term for internship, clinical, or rotation. All graduate OT programs require completion of fieldwork placements in compliance with ACOTE (Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education). Fieldwork placements provide students with the opportunity to go out into the a variety of settings to work with or alongside a fieldwork educator to apply what is being taught in the classroom. Fieldwork grants students the opportunity to experience application of occupational therapy in real life settings with clients.

Over the course of my time in the Master’s program at my grad school, I must complete four Level I placements and two Level II placements. For my Level I placements, I will have the opportunity to see occupational therapy practice with pediatrics, adults, older adults, and the mental health population. Level I placements, at my grad school specifically, take place in my second, third and fourth semesters once per week for 10 weeks (disclaimer: every OT program does their scheduling differently). As a student, Level I fieldwork placements involve a lot of observation and trying to connect what was taught in the classroom with what is seen in practice. During these placements, very little, if any, hands-on practice occurs because we are still in the process of learning everything we need to know.

After my academic classes are done (spring 2020), I will begin my Level II fieldwork placements. Level II placements take place five days per week for 12 weeks. For my graduate program, my first Level II placement will occur in the summer (of 2020), followed by my second Level II placement in the fall (of 2020). Level II placements can occur with any population within any setting. At this time, students are expected to competent in completing evaluations, creating interventions, and implementing clinical reasoning skills; therefore, hands-on practice occurs throughout the entire placement. Additionally, we are technically working under our fieldwork educator’s license.

In some instances, emerging fieldwork placements can occur. Just as the term depicts, “emerging” means that these placements are at locations that don’t yet have an OT but would benefit from having an OT hopefully in the future. With emerging placements, fieldwork educators could be facility directors, teachers, or other health professionals. Emerging placements help to advocate for our role in non-traditional OT settings.

I have just completed my first Level I fieldwork placement in a pediatric setting. I feel like the past 10 weeks have flown by and I have most definitely learned a lot from my experiences and opportunities. I am excited to learn where my next placement will be as I am most interested in working with adults or older adults in the future.