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(We’d love for you to meet Mariah; we are so happy and blessed to have her at One with the Water!)

therapy swimmingHello, my name is Mariah Anderson, and I am an occupational therapy student at Creighton University in Nebraska. I will graduate from the program this May, 2017, with a Clinical Doctorate of Occupational Therapy (OT). I am currently completing the last portion of my clinical work with One with the Water. For our last clinical, we were able to create our own unique experience by picking any setting to apply OT. Since I have grown up with swimming I have a passion that combines my two worlds of swimming and occupational therapy!

But before I walk you through how different aspects of occupational therapy are applicable to the swimming environment, I want to give a brief background on OT.

Occupational Therapy: What is it?

The reference guide for OT, is the Occupational Therapy Practice Framework: Domain and Process (OTPF). The OTPF defines occupational therapy 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” (AOTA, 2014, p. S1).

Which is to say, every part of your day can be evaluated through an OT lens.

Assessing one’s day can be as broad as looking at whole tasks/occupations. Getting dressed, bathing, making a meal, driving, job performance, etc., are all examples of these tasks. It can also be very specific activities, fine-tuned by examining different focus areas such as attention, sequencing, muscle tone, social interaction skills, and more. Thus, swimming can be assessed from the broader categories of play, leisure, social participation, and education.

These areas can then be further evaluated based on individual client factors, performance skills, and performance patterns (see below for definitions). In addition to the personal attributes, OT can assess the contextual (cultural, personal, temporal, and virtual) and environmental (physical and social conditions) factors that impact daily life, or even specific activities, like swimming.

Client factors: include values, beliefs, spirituality, body functions, and body structures that reside within the client that influences the client’s performance in occupations (AOTA, 2014, p. S22).

Performance skills: observable elements of action that have an implicit functional purpose; skills are considered a classification of action, encompassing multiple capacities (body functions and body structures) and, when combined, underlie the ability to participate in desired occupations and activities (AOTA, 2014, p. S25). i.e. motor skills, processing skills, and social interactions skills

Performance patterns: habits, routines, roles, and rituals used in the process of engaging in occupations or activities; these patterns can support or hinder occupational performance (AOTA, 2014, p. S27).

Why you need OT!

Adaptive AthletesOccupational therapy is a wonderful field with the base goal being the client’s happiness in life. OT helps individuals seek out and participate in what will give them an improved quality of life. The profession allows clients to engage in a life that is meaningful to them.

Ok, you may be saying, “What does all this jargon really tell me?” It shows that there are so many intricate events and details that make up each of our days. In order for us to engage in these things, our minds and bodies have to do a lot simultaneous to make it possible.

Over the next few blog posts, I will share how OT is being applied specifically to adaptive swimming. Rather than getting overwhelmed by the technical details of OT, use this post as a reference point while we dive into the topics at hand. I am looking forward to sharing with you all about how OT helps individuals engage in a meaningful life!

Combine Swimming and OT

Want to put Mariah’s skills to good use? As a non-profit, we accept grants and donations from community organizations, local businesses, and private donors. We offer need-based scholarships to persons with mental or physical challenges, including Service-Disabled Veterans, as well as to families struggling financially. If you want to give the gift of better health and increased self-confidence, consider donating to the One with the Water Foundation.


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