As the health care debate rages on, occupational therapy practitioners find themselves in the thick of issues being addressed by Congress. Reform is a critical component of the profession’s journey toward its centennial in 2017. During the American Occupational Therapy Association’s (AOTA) “visioning” process, it examined the drivers of change that are likely to shape health care and the social landscape of the 21st century.

Approximately 3,500 occupational therapy practitioners, educators and students are expected to descend upon Orlando, Fla, ib April 29 to May 2 to attend the conference.

Six broad overarching areas of practice—children and youth; health and wellness; mental health; productive aging; rehabilitation, disability and participation; and work and industry—became apparent. New research and practice in these areas are being explored at the 2010 AOTA Conference and Expo.

Children and Youth
Role of Occupational Therapy in Addressing Sensory Needs
Thursday, April 29, 9 -10:30 am EDT
Practical strategies to explain sensory integration (for children with autism) and advocate for occupational therapy will be explored.

Health and Wellness
The Nintendo® Wii Fit and Rehabilitation Across the Lifespan
Saturday, May 1, 3:30 – 5 pm EDT
A demonstration of the Wii and its application across the lifespan, specific interventions, and goals, and how to adapt/modify the Wii for various diagnoses with low tech means. Occupational interest games will be discussed with the application to both the pediatric/adult population health and wellness, as well as those with injury/illness.

Mental Health
The Role of Occupational Therapy in Behavioral Healthcare in Operation Iraqi Freedom
Thursday, April 29, 1 – 3 pm EDT
The occupational therapy practitioner’s education and background in psychology and behavioral health allow for functional treatment of behavioral disorders seen in the modern wartime environment. Skilled interventions in outpatient, restorative, and preventative care are paramount in returning service members and civilians to operational capability.

Productive Aging
Pathways to Better Practice: Tips and Techniques to Guide the Home Modifications Process
Wednesday, April 28, 12 – 6:30 pm EDT
This session is designed to continue the home modifications discussion by providing a review of the latest research, an introduction to assessment tools and evaluation guides, and an opportunity to problem-solve cases representing various settings and funding sources.

Rehabilitation, Disability and Participation
Driving and Community Mobility
Wednesday, April 28, 12 – 6:30 pm EDT
Through collaboration and converging evidence driving and community mobility is reviewed as an emerging practice area, research findings are presented with emphasis on implications for practice, and future directions are suggested to mold this practice area as a reimbursable, recognizable, and sustainable service.

Work and Industry
Testing for Ergonomic Risk Factors and Implementing Low Tech Solutions
Sunday, May 2, 8 -11 am EDT
A key role of occupational therapy in ergonomics is identifying conditions that place workers at risk of injury and recommend solutions to reduce those risks. The session reviews how and when to apply tests (eg RULA, Strain Index, Revised NIOSH Lift Equation), and low-tech solutions that can be utilized.

In addition, AOTA will be partnering with AARP to train practitioners in the nationally recognized “Carfit” program. CarFit helps senior drivers learn about how the effects of aging change the way they fit in their vehicle and how their driving can be affected. During the training sessions, some occupational therapy practitioners will play the role of senior drivers while others learn how to “fit” a car to a senior. After the training, practitioners will be able to participate in CarFit programs around the country. Carfit is a free program for seniors 65 and older provided in local communities.

For a full listing or presentations, visit

Founded in 1917, the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) represents the professional interests and concerns of more than 140,000 occupational therapists, assistants and students nationwide. The Association educates the public and advances the profession of occupational therapy by providing resources, setting standards including accreditations and serving as an advocate to improve health care.

[Source: AOTA]