- Cullman, Alabama

April 22, 2013

Wallace State program celebrates Occupational Therapy Month

Gail Crutchfield

HANCEVILLE — Faculty and students in the Occupational Therapy program at Wallace State Community College are taking the month of April to help educate the public about the field during Occupational Therapy month.

The Hanceville campus offers an associate in applied science degree for occupational therapy assistants, who work under the supervision of occupational therapists to help patients get back to their normal daily activities after suffering an injury or illness.

Gail Hyatt, Academic Fieldwork Coordinator for the OTA program at WSCC, said occupational therapists and their assistants do all they can to help their patients reestablish their independence and learn new ways to perform tasks.

“We’re kind of a misunderstood profession at times,” Hyatt said. When people think of occupational therapy they may assume it’s only for those seeking to return to their jobs.

“Are we going to get you back to work?” she asked. “Yes, we are. But in occupational therapy we don’t just focus on what you do for a living but the occupations you do as you live, whether it’s reading a book, playing football, any of those things. That’s our goal.”

Hyatt said occupational therapy works to improve a person’s quality of life and give them more independence. That can require a little improvisation, she said.

“We help them through use of adaptive equipment to help them perform tasks in a different way,” Hyatt said. For example, they may provide a bowl holder for a patient who had had a stroke and has use of only one side of their body so they can stir ingredients while making a meal. They may show them how to use a rocking knife to cut meat on their plate one-handed, so they can eat independently.

“And sometimes they’re not able to get back to doing a task the way the used to do it,” Hyatt said. “But we help them sometimes find a different way of accomplishing a task, and help to remediate by helping them gain more strength, endurance, and balance.”

“The slogan of Occupational Therapy is living life to the fullest,” Hyatt said, “and that’s truly what our goal is, for each person to find a way to have a great quality of life, to enjoy life as long as possible.”

The Wallace State Occupational Therapy Assistant program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education of the American Occupational Therapy Association. In 2012, the program earned a 10-year reaccreditation from ACOTE.

The program is certified by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy Inc. (NBCOT). After successful completion of the NBCOT exam, graduates will be a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant. A high percentage of graduating students pass their NBCOT exam, with the class of 2011 earned a 100 percent pass rate.

For more information, call Wallace State’s OTA program at 256-352-8333 or visit