April is Occupational Therapy Month! But what IS Occupational Therapy (OT)? In simple terms, OT teaches you how to adapt. If your ability to perform your everyday responsibilities is ever impacted due to an illness or injury, occupational therapy can help. Those everyday responsibilities may have included going to work in earlier years, but now it may include attending exercise classes, venturing out on the walking trails, or participating in social events. OT is a branch of skilled therapy that helps people regain independence in all areas of their lives, and helps with barriers that impact a person’s emotional, social, and/or physical needs. So, even if you’re retired, occupational therapy can still be beneficial for you!

OTs use their knowledge of the structure and function of the human body and the effects of illness and injury to increase your involvement in daily activities.  OTs teach individuals how to manage stress and fatigue and prevent re-injury.  They are also the experts in home safety and fall prevention and can advise on environmental modifications or improvements. 

During therapy sessions, OTs will also work with the wellness and activities department to determine the best programs after your therapy is completed. This may include specific exercise classes and events, personal training, home exercise programs, or a combination of these services. Therapy partners with other departments to ensure you are engaging in the most appropriate and effective exercises and programming possible.

Eric Walker is the Director of Rehab for Functional Pathways at Kirby Pines, and he is also an Occupational Therapist. He was asked why he chose this field. “When thinking about what attracted me to the field of occupational therapy, I must relate it to my values and my Christianity. I believe we are called to make this world a better place every day with our actions and our attitudes. Three ways that we accomplish this is through love, empathy, and quality. Being an occupational therapist, I have the privilege of displaying all three of these traits daily. It begins with creating an atmosphere of love for every individual that I encounter and every individual that I have the privilege to lead. It continues with showing every client/patient empathy for their situations as if they were my own family. It is finalized with displaying the highest quality possible with my interventions and care. When I learned that I would be able to exhibit these traits daily, I knew this was a career that I wanted to be in for a while. To sum up my feelings for occupational therapy and with healthcare in general, I’m reminded of this quote. ‘People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’ I hope to embody that quote every single day.”  –Eric Walker, OTR/L, Director of Rehab, Functional Pathways

For more information on occupational therapy and how it can benefit you, please contact the Functional Pathways Therapy Team.