Occupational Therapy at the VA
Posted in Uncategorized on May 22, 2018
Occupational therapy (OT) is a key component of a comprehensive care program for veterans. With the goal of helping veterans grow in the functionality of activities of daily living, occupational therapy meets veterans where they are and works diligently to help veterans maintain independence for longer.
Learn more about how OT can help veterans and how the VA is using OT to improve the lives of veterans across the country.
Benefits of Occupational Therapy for Veterans
Occupational therapy (OT) is a type of rehabilitative therapy that works to help people perform meaningful activities. Taking a holistic approach and addressing activities of daily living, like bathing, dressing and personal hygiene, and even more advanced activities like cooking, driving, shopping and returning to work, helps veterans return to civilian life after an injury.
Occupational therapists work with veterans who are coming back from developmental, mental or physical trauma, including addiction and PTSD. The therapy uses treatments that can help maintain a veteran’s activities of daily living. For veterans that find circumstances overwhelming and are only able to cope by using alcohol or drugs, occupational therapy can help veterans identify harmful behaviors and apply more positive choices. For those with physical injuries, occupational therapy can provide tools and solutions to keep veterans independent.
For many veterans, occupational therapy is crucial to a comprehensive treatment plan. When combined with the correct therapies a support group and aftercare, occupational therapy is a vital part of a successful recovery.
Occupational Therapy Programs for Veterans
The Department of Veterans Affairs recognizes the benefits of OT for veterans. The VA is the nation’s largest employer of occupational therapists and says the primary goal of an occupational therapist at the VA is to help veterans “optimize functional performance in areas that are meaningful to their lives.”
There are a wide variety of OT programs available to veterans through the VA depending on the needs of the veteran. Veterans who have suffered a stroke may be working towards independently caring for himself or herself, preparing for a return home. Another veteran with a spinal injury may be working on operating a power wheelchair, improving range of motion and maintaining strength.
Eric Lipton is an occupational therapist with the VA and says, “I have had the great honor to work with Veterans who represent a very large span of American history, including Veterans from World War I all the way to the current Global War on Terror. They have made huge sacrifices that often have long-term consequences to their health. That’s why the VA Health Care System is so important. We really understand the specialized needs of our Veterans.”