WHAT I DO AS AN OCCUPATIONAL THERAPIST

I'm an occupational therapist at a children's hospital. Most people have no idea what an OT is or does. And immediately think it's related to job counseling (it's not). It is a seriously under-known profession. It is difficult to define because OTs can really do anything...functional rehabilitation focused on things you do that OCCUPY your time.
  1. Engage children with complex medical conditions in functional rehabilitation for participation in meaningful daily occupations (things you do that occupy your time).
  2. Help kids who've just had a brain tumor resected or removed get out of bed for the first time after surgery.
  3. Evaluate, assess, and treat feeding and swallowing issues.
    Helping kids eat is one of the most rewarding parts of my job. Eating is our primary occupation from the moment we are born. Getting a NICU baby to take a bottle for the first time, seeing a brain injured teenager eat a hamburger as his first functional activity when he hasn't even purposefully opened his eyes yet after his injury, getting an orally aversive, g-tube fed toddler accept a bite of a brownie for the first time...these are powerful moments
  4. Connect with the patient. Give kids that are hospitalized the chance to act like a normal kid and be seen as a normal kid (or adolescent or young adult)
    Our medical system does not serve the humanity in people. Patients can easily be seen as a number, a diagnosis, a series of parts to fix rather than a whole person with thoughts, feelings, context, culture, etc. basic human decency can easily fall by the wayside in hospital interactions.
  5. Facilitate empowerment in hospitalized children and families to advocate for themselves.
    So many of my kids and families don't feel they have the right to speak up for basic needs when in the hospital - for example, demanding a translator when english isn't the first language. I can't imagine being hospitalized in a foreign country and unable to communicate with those caring for me.
  6. Collaborate with kids on setting goals (both immediate and long-term life goals) to instill hope and meaning in the daily drudgery of getting out of bed to work towards getting back to home/school/community life
  7. Play games. Help them Feed themselves. Help them take showers, go to the bathroom, brush their teeth, sit upright, move their arms, perform toilet and tub transfers. Write. Dance. Draw. Sing. Engage socially.
  8. Evaluate and treat fine motor, gross motor, cognitive, communicative, and sensory issues.
  9. Make my patients laugh.
    This is my personal goal with each kid/adolescent/young adult I have the pleasure of working with.