A Perfect Amalgamation….

by let's OT

A psychiatrist, a welfare worker, an architect, an arts and crafts teacher and a vocational secretary came together on 17th March, 1917 to form the National society for the promotion of occupational therapy (NSPOT). These people the founders of our profession had realised the limitations in their own professions and then realised the importance of occupation as a therapeutic tool.

As Dunton’s one of the creed goes, ‘that sick minds, sick bodies, sick souls may be healed through occupation.”

Dunton tried to address two main problems that could inhibit the professions development , they were fundings for research and suitable methodology to study  the therapeutic effects of occupation on individuals.

During the early stages of the development of the profession, its path was influenced by many factors or events like the arts and crafts movement, World War I, World War II and the Rehabilitation act. The development of specialization areas like physical disabilities, psychosocial dysfunction and pediatrics also contributed .

The profession was like a ship in the middle of the ocean facing winds and storms in various directions.

Although specialization brought with it more recognition but the formation of the closer bonds with the medical model was leading to conflict with some of the founding ideals.

To resolve this conflict then came various theories like Reilly’s Occupational behaviour, Sensory integration by Ayers, Neurodevelopment treatment by Bobath and Allen’s Cognitive disabilities. In recent years theories which are occupation centered have been developed, i.e. Gary Kielhofner’s MOHO, Schultz’s Occupational adaptation and Clark’s Occupational science. These theories have dramatically contributed to strengthen the professions founding principles and at the same time evolving with the current need of the societies.

Occupational therapy was brought to India 60 years ago by Dr.Kamala V  Nimbkar. The foundation of her thought to bring occupational therapy in India was led by her stay at the Sabarmati ashram where she was the in charge of the treatment of the external wounds; and also her involvement in the freedom movement of India. She came across various people with disabilities and lack of any kind of treatment for them.

The profession in India since then has been on path of development with formation of the AIOTA and its regional branches, The IJOT and the annual conferences.

Similar to the path that the profession followed in the United States, in India the biggest challenge was the adaptability of the profession to the culture and the ethics. India is a developing country thus a profession like ours which works on the quality of life of individuals will have to face various challenges. The evolution of the medical care (ICU, NICU, and Various Specialties), the sudden surge in the episodes of polio and tuberculosis, the change in treatment module of the mentally ill, formation of the Rehabilitation Council of India, the Disability laws, the Right to Education Act and the recent Learning Disabitly certification has influenced the growth of the profession since its inception in India.

Occupational therapy in India is evolving and changing with the needs of its country. We need to know the factors that influence this change as “ Changes can be the incentive for our growth.” Dr Indira Kenkre(IJOT editorial).

‘Being at the beginning of the development of the profession is both exciting and scary. Its means that admitting that much we cannot know and acknowledging that many years of arduous development of research and educational preparation of the professional occupational therapist may be required….it is going to take as many years to begin to move towards realizing this potential and generating a knowledge base as it has taken medicine and law’

—(Fidler 1988)