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Insights on the History of Occupational Therapy

By Edited Jun 26, 2016 0 0

Knowing the start of this discipline is essential for those who seek a job in the field. Current occupational therapy plan of therapy have been used since around 100 BCE, when Asclepiades, a Greek Doctor, used a combination of exercise and massage to cure mentally ill patients. But the practice, as we know it today, didn’t begin to emerge until the 18th century in Europe. It is widely believed that Phillipe Pinel and Johan Christian Reil first introduced occupational therapy to Europe. With the use of leisure and work, mentally ill patients were exposed to a different, yet effective manner.. This system was later used in the 20th century, when the US health care system improved their treatment towards patients with mental problems.

Occupational Therapy as a Profession

In 1910 to 1920, the idea of making OT a profession came to light. This idea was backed by professionals yet smeared at the same time. It was highly criticized as most physicians considered wood carving and crafting unecessary. It didn’t take long for the everyone else to welcome the importance of Occupational Therapy as proponents of the profession developed their craft. Within a span of 20 years, the public was convinced that health was more than just a physiological concept, and that social and economic issues also came into play.

Occupational Therapy in the United States was not widelt practiced, although it was already welcomed by the government and its practitioners seldom recorded its progress - back then, records were not given much value as they are now. What we know about Occupational Therapy today is because news papers and health agencies took note of its public milestones only. The wars that followed strengthened the idea that Occupational Therapy must be taught to new medical students to keep the discipline alive. The Surgeon General, at the time, recruited medical professionals who were knowledgeable in occupational and physical therapies - they were called "Reconstruction Aides".

The Importance of World War 1 to Occupational Therapy in America

Approximately 150,000 wounded infrantrtmen were treated by reconstruction aides when they came home from overseas. It is not known how many were attended to abroad. The early occupational therapists were mostly females who wanted to contribute in the war as much as they could. During the war recognition was given to these women, but later on the discipline struggled to stay alive. The sentiment regarding assisting soldiers during the war transformed into professional and financial gratification. The need for a governing body that could oversee the future of occupational therapy became prevalent, leading to the founding of the America Occupational Therapy Association or AOTA.

With the help of AOTA, OT once again, became a known real medical practice. Occupational Therapy gained further recognition when Adolf Meyer proposed a study to the US Government calling for the safety and learning of the discipline. His paper was later assisted by William Rush Dunton who created basic ideas for this medical practice.

In World War II, Occupational Therapy was once again put into extensive use. It is believed that the person-environment-occupation model may have led to the popularity of this practice. As of now, alterations and developments are currently being made to make occupational therapy a more powerful practice.

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