Occupational Therapy Logo

Wiki info

World War I forced the new profession to clarify its role in the medical domain and to standardize training and practice. In addition to clarifying its public image, occupational therapy also established clinics, workshops, and training schools nationwide. Due to the overwhelming number of wartime injuries, "reconstruction aides" (an umbrella term for occupational therapy aides and physiotherapy aides, now known as physical therapists) were recruited by the Surgeon General. Between 1917 and 1920, nearly 148,000 wounded men were placed in hospitals upon their return to the states. This number does not account for those wounded abroad. The success of the reconstruction aides, largely made up of women trying to "do their bit" to help with the war effort, was a great accomplishment. Post-war, however, there was a struggle to keep people in the profession. Emphasis shifted from the altruistic war-time mentality to the financial, professional, and personal satisfaction that comes with being a therapist. To make the profession more appealing, practice was standardized, as was the curriculum. Entry and exit criteria were established, and the American Occupational Therapy Association advocated for steady employment, decent wages, and fair working conditions. Via these methods, occupational therapy sought and obtained medical legitimacy in the 1920s.

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