As a woman in action sports there is always the risk of injury, but luckily for me I know all about the world of occupational therapy (OT) and I am here to share that knowledge! Frequently people assume occupational therapists only work with individuals who need help with bathing or going to the bathroom. Well I am here to tell you that occupational therapy is LIMITLESS.
Occupational therapy is therapy that works to help an individual learn, regain, or improve a skill that they find meaningful. That's right, any skill!
One of my favorite skills is downhill mountain biking. If I get injured when I'm riding an OT can help me regain range of motion, so I can get back to my previous level of riding. They can help show me techniques that reduce the amount of negative impact on my body. Also, if I'm feeling depressed about not being on my bike—well, they can help with that, too.
An occupational therapy student made this brace for my hand to help me recover and get back to mountain biking after an injury!
Occupational Therapy vs Physical Therapy
Physical therapy focuses on physical rehabilitation and works to restore mobility. Occupational therapy considers the physical aspects of rehabilitation while also taking into account a person’s lifestyle and the activities they engage in. An occupational therapist undergoes extensive training to learn how to assess a person’s wellbeing in all aspects of their life. Therapy is shaped around what is most important to the individual and not simply their diagnosis.
Occupational therapists ask, “What matters to you?” Not, “What’s the matter with you?”
When to see an Occupational Therapist
To have a visit to an OT covered under insurance you must first receive a referral from your Primary Care Physician. For women in action sports it may be time to plan a visit to your local OT if you have recently broken a bone or suffered a sports related injury. OT’s can provide orthoses to help treat your injury and they can also help you adapt a home exercise program that implements the sport activity you love.
Occupational Therapy as a Career
Not only is occupational therapy beneficial if you have suffered an injury, but it is also a lucrative field to go into. In the US the average OT salary is $80,000. As women in action sports we love to do what we do and most of that involves being outside. Think about adaptive sports programs that you see on the ski hill. OT's can do that and so much more! Occupational therapy is hands on! You can work with individuals helping them do what they love while also doing what you love.
OT at it's start, injured soldiers participating in a knitting and weaving activity with the idea that the action of doing something can be healing. This would later turn into helping people heal by incorporating what they love to do into therapy.
Occupational Therapy and Me
I am currently a student at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine Occupational Therapy Graduate Program (woo! that's a mouthful). I chose to go into this field because I can help people do what they love and that is meaningful. To get into this program I had to earn a bachelor's degree and take prerequisite classes. Some programs may also require that you take the GRE.
UNM Occupational Therapy Class of 2018
My goal when I graduate is to work with military veterans who have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. I hope to expose them to the world of downhill mountain biking to promote wellness and increase social interactions and positive experiences. So, ladies. Here is food for thought. Why not help people and do what you love at the same time? If you’ve ever tried to think of a way to make it happen, then OT might be the answer you’re looking for.
For more information on occupational therapy you can check out the following:
American Occupational Therapy Association website: http://www.aota.org/About-Occupational- Therapy.aspx
World Federation of Occupational Therapists: http://www.wfot.org
University of New Mexico School of Medicine Occupational Therapy Graduate Program:
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