Occupational Therapy Month is that time of the year when the dedication, discipline, efforts, and service of this specialized branch of healthcare are recognized and appreciated.
Occupational Therapists work in a variety of settings. When people suffer an injury, require rehabilitation support, or have a disability or mental health condition, an Occupational Therapist, also known as OT comes into the picture. Their job is to help those people to do or return to the activities that are necessary for them in their everyday life.
In this article, we will talk about the history of Occupational Therapy Month, why it is important for us to recognize this month, and also, how the service of Occupational Therapists is celebrated differently, at different times of the year in the US and in Australia.
What is Occupational Therapy Month?
Occupational Therapy Month or OT month celebrates the holistic approach that Occupational Therapists or OTs have brought into the field of healthcare.
April is the time of the year that has been decided on by the American Occupational Therapy Association to celebrate Occupational Therapy Month.
However, in 2010, the World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT) officially created World Occupational Therapy Day on the 27th of October. Therefore many countries also celebrate OT month in October.
By celebrating the superheroes whose dedication and work help millions to get back on their feet, we not just pay tribute to the profession of Occupational Therapy but also, to their ultimate goal of empowering everyday living and improving the quality of life.
The History of Occupational Therapy Month
Although the term “occupational therapy” has not been around for long and is a relatively new profession, in history, there has been a gradual build-up of OTs to make it what it is today.
If we look at the history of occupational therapy, we could trace back the first instance to 100 BC when therapy was used to treat patients who suffer from physical and mental disorders.
However, there was no official name that was designated for this kind of practice.
It was the 1800s when the benefits and usefulness of occupational therapy became widely acknowledged, recognized, and encouraged as well.
As a strong proponent of the practice, William Rush Dunton Jr. founded the National Society for the Promotion of Occupational Therapy which has eventually become the AOTA (Moninger, n.d.).
This is why Dunton Jr. is referred to as the ‘father of Occupational Therapy’ as he was the first person to publish accounts of this therapy being practiced as a legitimate profession.
During World War I, there were many wounded from the war and required assistance to get back to their daily living roles. Here, there was an introduction of occupational aides, mainly females, to help with bedside occupations (PEIOT Society, n.d.).
In the year 1915, it was the ‘mother of Occupation Therapy’, Eleanor Clarke Slagle, who was the first to organize an educational and training program for all OTs (Moninger, n.d.).
This was indeed a significant chapter in the field of Occupational Therapy as from that day onwards, the profession was recognized as a distinct branch of medical sciences.
Why is it important to Celebrate Occupational Therapy Month?
It is highly important to celebrate OT month globally because, without the help and assistance of occupational therapists, life might be very different for people who have a disability or have had an injury.
Here are three more reasons why we need to promote and celebrate the profession of OTs:
It Helps in the Advancement of the Whole Profession
The sole purpose of celebrating occupational therapy and occupational therapists is to spread the benefits of this practice to all corners of the globe.
The month specially propagates the importance of this profession along with providing several resources and information on how OT has improved the overall healthcare system.
It Honors the OT Pride
The work that occupational therapists do is exceptional and therefore, we need to acknowledge their education, discipline, and dedication.
By celebrating OT month, we not only acknowledge their efforts but also boost their morale.
It Educates Millions
As occupational therapy is still a relatively new profession, having a celebratory day, week or month can help bring awareness to the profession!
So, as occupational therapists or occupational therapy ambassador, we need to use this month as an effective sharing space for the masses to educate them and inform them of the incredible benefits of occupational therapy.
It can also provide options to those who are studying or looking for another profession to consider OT!
World Occupational Therapy Day
World Occupational Therapy Day is celebrated on the 27th of October.
This is the reason that instead of dedicating the month of April to celebrate occupational therapy practitioners, in Australia, Occupational Therapy Week is celebrated from the 25th of October to the 31st of October.
It was in 2010 that World Occupational Therapy Day was launched by The World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT). After this, the entire world celebrates this day as Occupational Therapy Global Day.
On this very special day, volunteer services are provided to individuals and organizations by Occupational Therapists and OT students.
They also take up some fundraising walks or provide checkup sessions to households of aging adults.
Occupational Therapy Month is celebrated by many countries for about a week, or an entire month in the time of October. This is why the WFOT has decided on 27th October as World Occupational therapy Day.
However, in America, it is celebrated in the month of April and recognizes the positive influence that OTs have on the healthcare system of the country.
So, regardless of when you celebrate OT month, it is important to pay our tribute to the dedicated hard work of the professionals who are in the field of Occupational Therapy.
Moninger, M. (n.d.). A Brief History of Occupational Therapy. Retrieved April 18, 2022, from https://www.myotspot.com/history-of-occupational-therapy/
Occupational therapy month – April. National Today. (2021, August 20). Retrieved March 28, 2022, from https://nationaltoday.com/occupational-therapy-month/
OT Week. Occupational Therapy Australia. (n.d.). Retrieved March 28, 2022, from https://otaus.com.au/cpd-and-events/ot-week
PEIOT Society. (n.d.). A History of the Occupational Therapy Profession. Retrieved on April 18, 2022 from https://www.peiot.org/society/society-history-of-ot
World occupational therapy day. WFOT. (2022, March 27). Retrieved March 28, 2022, from https://wfot.org/world-occupational-therapy-day