Each year, 27 October is celebrated nationally and internationally as the World Occupational Therapy Day. The theme of this year is, "Reimagine Doing".
In this critical time, the day is celebrated with the expertise of occupational therapy for reimagining participation in occupations that provide value and meaning to everyday life.
Occupational therapy is a health care profession whose concern is to promote health physically and mentally. Occupational therapy is the only profession that helps people across the lifespan to do the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of daily activities. Occupational therapy practitioners enable people of all ages to live life to its fullest by helping them promote health, and prevent or live better with injury, illness, or disability.
Occupational therapists work for making independence in Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) as much as possible. ADLs consist of three important things: self-care, productivity and leisure.
The occupational therapist provides four levels of intervention.
Adjunctive method: It is the initial stage of treatment which includes exercises, facilitation and inhibition techniques, positioning, transferring, sensory stimulation etc. In this stage occupational therapist assesses the patient's performance component.
Enabling activity: It is the stage where the occupational therapist practices the patient simulated activity for preparing to participate in their actual life. For example, practicing cylindrical grasp activities for the preparation of drinking water by using glass.
Purposeful activity: In this stage patients become more active than in the other stages. They can do their daily work like dressing, eating, writing, mobility etc.
Occupation based activity: It is the last stage where patients perform their self-care, leisure and productive work in their own environment.
Occupational therapy in Bangladesh
After the liberation in 1971, occupational therapy became the most needed therapy for the injured freedom fighter. At that critical time, Professor R J Garst came to Bangladesh in 1972. He was an American orthopaedic surgeon and a rehabilitation expert. In 1973, Professor Garst started the first occupational therapy school for occupational therapy at the Rehabilitation Institute and Hospital for the Disabled (RIHD). Currently, it is renamed as National Institute of Traumatology and Orthopaedic Rehabilitation (NITOR).
Only three students completed their bachelor's degree in 1976. Unfortunately, the course was discontinued for a certain period. The course again started in 1993 at the Bangladesh Health Professions Institute (BHPI) which is the academic institute of the Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed (CRP).
In the beginning, the occupational therapy assistant course started at BHPI. Then the bachelor's degree course started in 1999 under the medicine faculty of the University of Dhaka. At present 294 therapists completed their bachelor's degree until 2019. Now they are working in different government hospitals, special needs schools, NGOs etc.
Occupational therapy is equally as important as physical therapy for people of all ages. It is an absolute essential to helping people regain their independence and ability to do what they love and enjoy in life.
The writer is an occupational therapist at the department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, National Institute of Neurosciences and Hospital (NINS&H), Dhaka. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org