The American Occupational Therapy Association Inc’s (AOTA) annual Hill Day brought together at least 650 occupational therapists (OTs), educators, and students from 35 states across the United States on Capitol Hill to discuss key legislation and the state of healthcare.

The event, which took place on Monday, September 28, was an annual opportunity for OTs to bring their concerns straight to their states’ legislators, offer solutions, ask questions, and listen to guest speakers about topics relative to their work, according to a media release from AOTA.

Hill Day attendees focused on advocating for the distinct value that occupational therapy practitioners bring to the array of mental health and wellness services, and rehabilitation research, the release explains.

One of the key issues discussed during Hill Day was the Occupational Therapy in Mental Health Act, which is being introduced to help ensure that those with mental health issues are able to access the services that they need, including occupational therapy, per the release.

“We need to make sure that people with serious mental illness can access to a full range of services including occupational therapy,” says Rep Paul Tonko (D-NY), in the release.

“Occupational therapy can help someone live as independently as possible within the community. The Occupational Therapy in Mental Health Act will help support the strong occupational therapy workforce in mental health settings,” he adds.

The other key issue discussed was S. 800/HR 1631, a bill that is designed to improve coordination of rehabilitation research within the National Institutes of Health and with other agencies, enhance and streamline rehabilitation research, establish an annual report describing the Center’s activities in relation to the Research Plan, and define medical rehabilitation, among other goals, according to the release.

“The cutting-edge medical research done by the NIH should focus on getting more stroke survivors back to work,” says US Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL), in the release.

“This bill will modernize rehabilitation research at the NIH for the first time in over 20 years and will improve the standard of rehab care so more patients can recover from stroke and return to independence like I did,” he states.

Besides those two issues, the release explains, the main goal of Hill Day was to educate legislators that occupational therapy plays an essential role in meaningful and effective efforts to improve society’s health and the healthcare system.

For more information, visit AOTA and AOTA’s Hill Day.

[Source: The American Occupational Therapy Association Inc]