News & Resources

April is Occupational Therapy Month

April 26, 2022

April is Occupational Therapy Month. The profession of occupational therapy was initially developed as a response to soldiers returning home from World War I with symptoms of “shell shock,” or what we now know as post-traumatic stress disorder. The original occupational therapists were women hired by the military to assist the soldiers in reclaiming their mental and physical health. These women, called reconstruction aides, provided the soldiers with crafts and activities to keep their hands and minds focused on their recovery. The connection between mental and physical health was immediate for these healthcare providers. As early Reconstruction Aide Ora Ruggles put it, “Finding and teaching occupations will take their minds off of their misfortunes. It’s not enough to give a patient something to do with their hands, you must reach for the heart as well as the hands. It’s the heart that really does the healing.”

Shortly after that unofficial practice began, the National Society for Promotion of Occupational Therapy was formed by three men and three women with experience in medicine, psychology, and vocation. In 1921, they changed the name to the American Occupational Therapy Association, an entity that still exists today to advocate for the profession.

Today, occupational therapy has evolved into an evidence-based, scientific practice that helps people from all walks of life to reclaim or develop functions of movement and learn new ways of doing things, that in turn can help improve mental health as well.

After earning their occupational therapy master’s degrees, occupational therapists can go on to add a specialty. Some specialties include training to help with:

  • Aquatic Therapeutic Exercise: Occupational therapists who work with clients in the water to help them increase mobility, coordination, and muscle tone.
  • Assistive Technology: Therapists who have completed training in helping their patients use wheelchairs, seating products, and other assistive devices.
  • Brain Injuries: The Certified Brain Injury Specialist certificate is issued to therapists who have special training in brain behavior, brain injuries, medication management, and best practices for interacting with patients with brain injuries and their families.
  • Feeding, Eating and Swallowing (SCFES): Patients with neurological disorders or those recovering from a stroke may need special training to help them with feeding, eating, and swallowing.
  • Physical Rehabilitation: Board Certification in Physical Therapy includes the ability to design patient-centered, outcomes-based programs for physical rehabilitation.

These are just a few of the several occupational therapy specialties available to healthcare professionals looking to further their careers. Earning an occupational therapy specialization may require certification, additional school, or a number of practice hours. At Ridgeview Transitional Rehab, we are proud to employ skilled occupational therapists who help our patients improve their lives every day.