A NEW BRANCH OF NURSING Occupational Therapy
There is a comparatively new career for women who are interested in medicine and the treatment of illness. This is called occupational therapy, and is as yet quite new to this country. It consists in the curing of injury and disease by giving the patient definitely prescribed mental and physical occupation.
This branch of medical science has been recognized for many years as a definite part of the hospital routine in the United Slates and in England it is steadily becoming more important, and it is spreading rapidly in the biggest English hospitals and medical centres.
Treatment of Injury
Occupational Therapy is prescribed in hospitals for the after-treatment of injuries and sprains, or in cases of paralysis and arthritic conditions. It is designed to exercise certain groups of muscles which have been affected, and thus gradually to bring them back to their normal strength again. This, of course, has been known as a general principle for a long time, but during the last ten years, there has been a great deal of specialized research into the various crafts, and the muscles which they develop, so that occupational therapy is emerging as a specialized science. If the interest of the patient is directed towards something definite, such as weaving or printing, etc., he will use the right muscles without thinking, and get better far more quickly; hence the value of such treatment.
The psychological factor in illness is being far more generally taken into account by modern doctors. For this reason the value of any occupation which distracts the patient's mind is recognised. From this point of view occupational therapy is very useful. For all patients, especially those who spend a long time on their backs, anything which takes their mind off their illness has been found to improve their physical condition.
The training consists in a knowledge of various crafts and how to apply Ahem to medical eases. • A special diploma is given in several County Mental Hospitals to qualified nurses who want to specialize in Occupational Therapy. The training for this takes about nine months, but the diploma is only given after at least two years' practical experience.
At least two English institutes give a specialized training course for this work which lasts from one to two years; and in the United States there are several recognised schools for Occupational Therapy, to which there are scholarships. In addition there is an Occupational Therapy Association in New York.