We help clients with something we like to call the occupation of living. What does this mean? This means we focus on the activities, tasks and skills that you choose to spend your time on; the activities that are important to you. This can include a wide range of things, including, but not limited to, getting dressed, cooking, gardening, using a computer and playing an instrument.
So how do we do this? There are many ways we can help someone either improve or regain life skills. Let me give you a few examples. Imagine for a moment that you were in a car accident and suffered from a head injury. Your occupational therapist can work with you to relearn how to get dressed, if that was a challenge for you. Here’s another way. Your friend has a young adult son who has a developmental disability and he has a job on the other side of town. He cannot drive and your friend can’t drive him everyday. An occupational therapist could work with him to learn how to use the public transit system. Together, they could work on reading and following a schedule, knowing how much to pay for the transportation and remembering what stops to get off at. Let’s look at one more example. A coworker was in an accident and was paralyzed from the waist down. Your coworker is able to and wants to return to work. They can work with an occupational therapist to make changes to the work space to make it more accessible. The occupational therapist may also work on adjusting the work schedule to reduce fatigue throughout the day.
You will find us in hospitals and clinics as well as doing home visits and working in prisons. But you will also find us in many other not so well-known locations. We may run support groups for people with multiple sclerosis, teaching classes such as fall prevention and work place ergonomics. We will be in your local schools helping your children learn how to write, play or socialize. There are even therapists who work with animals to aid in the therapy they offer.
For us, helping people live their lives how they want to live it is what keeps us moving forward and loving our own lives and jobs.
Jennifer Renker is a Rochester-area native who is now studying to become an occupational therapist.