2021 Trends to Look for in Occupational Therapy
Healthcare is an evolving field, particularly in response to the ongoing global pandemic. More people are residing at home and unable to seek out-patient consultations due to the current scarcity of beds in clinical facilities because of the pandemic, not to mention the fear of the potential exposure to COVID-19. It has become important to identify the means and labor force that can undertake the therapeutic use of daily activities to enrich lives for both adults and children until normalcy prevails – this is where occupational therapy (OT) can play a critical role.
OT is defined as “the therapeutic use of everyday life activities (occupations) with individuals or groups for the purpose of enhancing or enabling participation in roles, habits, and routines in home, school, workplace, community, and other settings.” In simpler words, OTs use everyday activities to work with people (including children) with mental health problems, disabilities, injuries, or impairments.
Like any other healthcare sector, there are contemporary trends that are currently shaping the OT domain.
What popular trends are emerging in occupational therapy?
Increased Focus on Wellness
Governments worldwide have understood the importance of the adage that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” and are taking proactive steps to promote holistic wellness rather than focusing only on treating symptoms and diseases. The state of Connecticut recently allowed OTs to provide treatment through telemedicine as such treatments can lower medical costs and, in general, boost overall health. Similar measures have been introduced by other states as well as healthcare providers.
Active Patient Participation
There has been a paradigm shift in the mindset regarding OT’s perceived role in healthcare. As a post-treatment care department, OT is actively sought to form new habits and behaviors. A research study published in the Patient Experience Journal indicated that passive healthcare reception is not enough for real and lasting improvement. OTs are now bringing their expertise to act as a complementing pre-treatment and post-treatment service.
It is not often that the realm of OT is associated with advanced use of technology since the majority of treatment is based on affirmative human interactions, but this is being rapidly transformed. Smart health tags are being increasingly utilized to monitor breathing patterns, sleep quality, heart rate monitoring, and other activity levels. The collection of biometric data allows OTs to tailor and devise strategies that lead to measurable improvements while eliminating the adoption of trial-and-error processes. Similarly, 3D virtual environments have provided a highly stimulating rehab setting for patients by incorporating preferences and customized motivational regimes. As a result, real-time feedback now allows patients to monitor their performance.
Management of Diabetes
According to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 10.5% of the USA’s population – 34.2 million people of all ages – have diabetes, and this number is only increasing. Sedentary lifestyle coupled with the consumption of junk food has been known to lead to Type 2 diabetes. A study published in the International Journal of Endocrinology found that OT can significantly improve quality of life and treatment compliance for people with diabetes.
Another area in which OT makes a significant difference is in the ongoing battle against childhood obesity. OTs work with school management and nutritionists to develop extra-curricular programs such as Tai Chi, Zumba, Yoga, etc., to promote wellness and physical activity while providing essential information on a balanced diet. Likewise, OTs have been instrumental in cultivating an independent lifestyle and other essential skills for children with special needs.
Improvements in Sleep Quality
Not surprisingly, sleep disorders have become increasingly prevalent in adults and continue to affect energy levels and just about every area of a person’s life. A study by Occupational Therapy International analyzed sleep management practices in OT over 10 years and concluded that OTs could assist sleep-deprived patients in developing strategies to optimize sleep performance, undertake environmental modifications to enable better sleeping environments, and overall management of sleep cycles. This is an area of OT that has enormous growth potential.
Career Protection for Occupational Therapists
Occupational therapists’ role has broadened, which is great for the profession and those it serves, but that also means the additional risk of unforeseen adversarial events. As with any healthcare professional, it is imperative to have professional liability insurance to mitigate damages resulting from alleged malpractice claims. In some cases, health professionals are required by law to have an individual professional liability insurance policy. Notwithstanding the provisions of the law, it is in OTs’ best interest that they protect themselves with a professional liability policy of their own, separate from their employer.
At NOW Insurance, enormous care is put into ensuring competitive quotes are provided to healthcare professionals so that you can serve others stress-free. NOW Insurance offers coverage that is simple, quick, and affordable.