By ZAKEELAH JANSEN
The Occupational Therapy Association of South Africa (OTASA) is hosting National OT Week which runs from16-20 September. The aim of this initiate is to raise awareness about OT and the role of occupational therapists. This year’s theme is the “power of OT” – attesting to the diversity of the profession and the impact it has on the quality of life.
According to local occupational therapist, Jolene Tarr, OT is not a very well known profession particularly in Makhanda (Grahamstown). “It’s a health profession similar to dietetics, physiotherapy, audiology or speech therapy”, said Tarr.
Tarr previously worked at Settlers Hospital for 11 years and stated that the services of an OT in the public and private sector are not any different. Tarr recently opened her own local practise at the Health and Sport Centre in African street. She assists students at schools in Makhanda who have visual perception, difficulty with gripping a pencil, as well as challenges reading and writing.
At the Health and Sports Centre Tarr also assists the elderly who have suffered from a stroke. She also conducts assessments on whether or not someone can return to work after an injury or illness.
OT does not intervene in life or death situations, states Tarr. For example, if a student in Grade one struggles with letter reversals, slow writing or motor controls one won’t see the impact on their ability immediately. However, when that student goes to Grade 12, they will have problems with writing clearly for the examiner to see and being able to finish a three-hour paper.
“The younger the child is, the earlier the intervention, the more likely you are going to affect the neuroplasticity of the brain and to change on a neurological level – the same as someone who has a stroke, depression incident or any kind of physical diagnosis”, said Tarr.
For more information about OT readers can visit OTASA’s website here