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The Role of Occupational Therapy in Disaster Relief

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Lauryn Steffe

on 1 December 2014

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Transcript of The Role of Occupational Therapy in Disaster Relief

The Role of Occupational Therapy in Disaster Relief
Occupation and Health and Wellness
Engaging in occupations is used to help victims of disasters regain a routine and sense of normalcy.
According to Charles Christiansen, this reduces the effects of stressors on the body
Stressors affect an individual's immune system, so this helps keep an individual's immune system strong, increasing their health and wellness during a disaster.
American Occupational Therapy Association. (2014). Occupational therapy practice framework: Domain and process (3rd ed.). American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 68(Suppl. 1), S1-S48.http://dx.doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2014.682006

American Occupational Therapy Association. (2006). The role of occupational therapy in disaster preparedness, response, and recovery. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 60, 642–649.

History of disaster legislation. (2008, September). On call: Disaster reserve workforce. Retrieved from http://www.fema.gov/pdf/dae/200809.pdf
OT Framework
All areas of the framework are addressed in this practice area.

Important Federal and State Policies
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
This act provides reasoning for why disaster plans should accommodate those with disabilities.
Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act (PETS Act)
This mandates that the FEMA preparation plans take into account the needs of those with pets and service animals before, during, and after a disaster or emergency.
Role of Occupational Therapy
Particular areas include:
client factors
performance patterns
advocacy and self-advocacy interventions
health promotion approach to intervention
preventative approaches to intervention
Created by: Lauryn Steffe

OT's participation in the response to disasters can take many forms:
facilitating a special needs shelter
leading support groups to help individuals cope with anxiety and other affects from the disaster
providing mental health support services for victims of the disaster, first responders, and military personnel
The main response role is helping individuals regain a sense of normalcy and meaning in the midst of chaos.
Occupational therapists can aid in the preparation process by helping to design special needs shelters and by training others to aid those with special needs during a disaster.
Consult records of previous disaster situations to learn from problems that occurred before.
For example:
Addressing issues of wheelchair accessibility and mobility within the shelter.
Having proper food for those on special diets for diabetes and other conditions.
OT's aid victims in the recovery process by helping them rebuild their routines and activities that were disrupted by the disaster.
They help victims develop healthy and effective coping skills through participation in client-centered, meaningful occupations.
“You start helping the person figure out what is important,”... “Every day, you work with that person on trying to rebuild their life in a small, incremental way. It puts control back in their life, and they take control because they’re doing it, and they’re part of the solution.” - See more at: http://www.aota.org/About-Occupational-Therapy/Professionals/MH/Articles/Disaster-Relief.aspx#sthash.moEihMYv.dpuf
The Federal Disaster Relief Program of 1950 only authorized the federal government to aid local and state governments in the response to disasters.
The Disaster Relief Act of 1966 allowed the federal government to assist in the recovery efforts.
Post-Katrina Emergency Reform Act of 2006 (PKEMRA) revised the federal government's approach to manage preparedness for disasters only at the federal level.
The PETS Act was also passed in 2006. It made accommodations necessary for those with pets or service animals in the planning and, response, and recovery stages of disaster.
All of these legislative changes make it possible for occupational therapists to be involved in the disaster relief process.
They did the same in the aftermath of the disaster in Joplin and again countless other disasters.
They aided in the disaster relief efforts of in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as well.
Occupational Therapists aided in disaster relief for 9/11.
Full transcript