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Living Life

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The Brand Bus is Moving Along!

Living Life to Its fullest! That is what we help our clients do!


Also following you will see many comments and even arguments about the new brand and the poster.  It is a spirited debate!  The brand is indeed a different approach for us in occupational therapy.  We focus on what we do and the brand focuses on our outcome.  So while we move forward with the brand and many more materials and treatments to enable you to promote occupational therapy, be assured the bran bus is moving forward to make occupational therapy widely-recognized! 

I work with families who are coping with HIV/AIDS by conducting an occupation-based support group. These families live in supported housing and have little income left after paying for their medications, food, and rent to engage in activities that are enjoyable and healthy. Many cannot leave the complex because of lack of access to transportation. As a group we raise money to partially support our activities. We have gone to movies, made a trip to the Aquarium in Atlanta, had picnics, gone to Alabama Adventureland, etc. I want to share a story of one gentleman who when he joined our group was extremely ill and malnourished. He had been homeless and developed full-blown AIDS. He was alone and even though he was happy to have housing and better access to healthcare, he did not have anything to occupy his time so he became very depressed and felt hopeless.

His first experience with us was going bowling, which he had not done in over 20 years. He was so thin that I was worried whether he would have the strength to throw the ball without going down the alley with it! Needless to say, as a good OT I did modify his activity. He laughed and talked with others for the first time. Group members commented that they had yet to see him talk, let alone laugh. After that, he came to group regularly and organized follow-up activities outside of the support group, becoming a leader for the housing community. Eventually, his health was such he went back to work and was able to obtain his own appartment outside of the housing complex. He told me the group, the accepting community atmosphere, and the activities "saved his life."

I know that all of you have stories about how occupational therapy contributes to the quality of life of those who have received our services.


AOTA WANTS TO HEAR FROM YOU.  Please share your stories, while of course protecting confidentiality, so that you can help AOTA continue to develop its brand and branding. We want to associate real people with each of the smiling faces. I see the support group member's face in this poster where he was genuinely delighted with the possibilities. He was smiling with his eyes. His glass was filling and he actually had healthy ways to occupy his time outside of the housing complex.

I am anticipating your participation! COMMENT ON MY BLOG OR SEND AN EMAIL TO LivingLife@aota.org. I know we will all be moved by our own therapeutic power in helping people live life to its fullest.

Penny Moyers Cleveland
AOTA President


Attachment: AOTA Spread3 OT Practice final.pdf
  • We are awaiting comments on the poster, which is enclosed with this week's OT Practice Magazine.  Post your stories here!

  • Here is a comment received via email from a student, reposted with her permission:

    "Living Life to Its Fullest", for the clients shown in the poster means fulfilling their roles as a: grandmother, grandfather, child, brother/sister, mother, wife, father, husband, employee, employer, citizen, etc. Being able to spend time with loved ones, do the activities that make them smile, and reach for their dreams and aspirations. Occupational therapy, to me, means helping everyday people live their everydays lives. Whether its teaching, training, splinting, or adapting, occupational therapists have the skills to enable people to live their lives the way they want to.

    Personally, "Living Life to Its fullest", means fulfilling my dreams- both personal and professional and changing the lives of those I come into contact with. Waking up every morning with a smile, surronding myself with the people I love, living a happy and meaningful life, and making a difference in someone else's that's living life to the fullest.

    Thank you for your time,

    Nicole MacDougall

    Graduate Occupational Therapy student

    Quinnipiac University

    Hamden, CT

  • What are the stories behind the smiles?  When I look at the young girl in the center, let's call her SARAH, I think perhaps she was born with spina bifida but she has always been integrated into her school.  Occupational therapy has helped her learn to meet her personal needs, to dress and groom herself just like any other teenage girl.  Occupational therpay helped her by arranging her school to accomodate her wheelchair and fit in with her friends.  OT helped her smile!  What do you think?

  • As an occupational therapy graduate student, I believe that our profession helps individuals in “living life to its fullest” by providing them with the necessary tools and support to live their lives to their fullest potential. We provide hope, opportunity, and fulfillment among other things to the individuals we work with in hopes of helping them to live full, meaningful and productive lives.

    Occupational therapy has touched each of these individuals’ lives in a meaningful way. When I look at the poster, I see individuals who aspire to do the best that they can, and are able to succeed in doing so with the help of occupational therapists and their innovative interventions, adaptations, motivation, client and family education, and dedication. I see people who are working towards and achieving meaningful goals, ranging from the everyday activities involved in living independently to simply having fun with friends and family. Occupational therapy is about enabling individuals to live happy, healthy, and meaningful lives. As we can see from the poster, everyone can benefit from a little occupational therapy.

  • From AOTA member, Alexandra Dantec BSHS, MOTS, Quinnipiac University:

    After reading your motivational message from January 26, 2009 I am pleased to say that I feel occupational therapy is now being viewed in a more all-inclusive manner.  So many people are still confused as to what it is we do as a profession and I believe that the “Living Life to the Fullest” brand is a great way to explain what we do as I have used that term to communicate what it is we do to others in my own life.  I am currently working with a 2.5 year old little boy who is globally and severely impaired, is affected by a cortical visual impairment and has hypsarrhythmia ( a form of infantile spasms) and everyday that I work with him I am thinking about how it is possible to make it so that he can communicate his wants and needs to the people involved in his treatment so that he can get what he wants out of life.  What we do is such an amazing part of rehabilitation yet I think that we need to advocate for ourselves, stand on the rooftops if necessary and say “We are about the whole person and getting them to do what they want to do everyday!” If it is one thing this profession has taught me, it is not to take the little things for granted, live everyday to the fullest and appreciate those around you.  This new brand will open up a multitude of doors for those who currently need services and those who will need services in the future.  If we can associate a smiling face, a day of sunshine and an open road to occupational therapy, I believe people will begin to understand the all encompassing, goal oriented nature of occupational therapy.

  • From AOTA member, Alexandra King, MOTS:

    After reading the Presidential Address of 2006 and the President's Message from Penny Moyers, I firmly believe that we should have included something regarding what OT should be doing for the recent Veterans of the conflicts in the Middle East.  As Occupational Therapists we should be the ones paying attention to their psychosocial needs of returning to life after the horrors of war.  As a result of medical advances many of them are living through severe injuries and require major adaptations, equipment, and rehabilitation.  OTs should be jumping to take care of these men and women. We should be performing research and producing evidence-based literature to strengthen our clinical interventions for them.  If anyone deserves to "live life to its fullest" it is those who fought for and protected us all.

    The needs of the veterans do fall under 5 of the 6 areas mentioned in the Presidential Address, however, I believe that in these times they deserve to be recognized, and deserve more of our attention as OTs and as citizens.

  • From AOTA member, Jennifer Henry, OTS, Quinnipiac University:

    During a fieldwork level II experience, I worked with a client who is indefinitely placed at a state psychiatric hospital.  This client had multiple diagnoses, one of which was causing incredible pain in his legs that was impacting participation in all of his occupations.  The staff all were concerned that he was not participating in activities anymore.

    In years past, he had worked at the hospital greenhouse and was very proud of his accomplishments there.  My main approach to intervention with this client, therefore, was planting and taking care of tomato plants.  While the tomatoes didn't make it to the end of my fieldwork experience, my client's gains did.  He was active and devoted the majority of his attention to caring for these plants.  His social ventures with other clients increased and staff commented on his elevated mood and positive attitude.  For a person in a psychiatric hospital who reported having little to live for, this simple intervention allowed him to "live life to the fullest," despite what other limitations he faced.

  • From AOTA member, Jennifer Posillico:

    I think that AOTA's new poster and branding message "Living life to its fullest" strongly reflects occupational therapy.  All the various aged people and symbols define what occupational therapy truly is.  The various individuals portrayed, such as babies, young children, women, men, and the elderly reveal how the profession of occupational therapy has broadened its horizons to touch the lives of all ages and all ethnicities.  Many of the patients that occupational therapists work with have a goal which consists of getting better as soon as possible.  Most individuals will strive to do the best they can which is a line portrayed on the poster.

    I am able to relate to this as I have experienced this during all of my fieldworks.  One particular situation occurred during my affiliation at a psychiatric unit.  During a goal setting session, both male and female patients stated how they wanted to recover and would do anything to reach their goals.  Such patients revealed having the determination and power in order to succeed and return to their daily occupations.

    Occupational therapy certainly brings joy and happiness to diverse individuals as occupational therapists work with patients in helping them life their live to the fullest.  Living life to its fullest allows individuals to start their life over with full force and strength.  Occupational therapy inspires people in need to look at life from a different perspective.  This vital service is important to people's lives as it assists individuals to achieve independence in all areas which is portrayed in this poster.  However, many individuals are unaware of what OT is really about.  Therefore, AOTA's new poster and branding message is a great way to convey the meaning and significance of occupational therapy and the meaning behind living life to its fullest.  AOTA has made numerous accomplishments, including educating the public, recruiting students and using evidence to support our practice.  Along with AOTA's contributions, I think our profession can further flourish if students and occupational therapists each contribute now and in the upcoming years.

  • While completing my fieldwork level II affiliation over the summer, I worked at a long-term care state psychiatric hospital. Although numerous groups were offered throughout the day, a few clients remained isolative and were therefore making little progress towards their functional goals. One particular client, however, responded positively to a board-games group I held. He began to request that we play games of chess, checkers and Guess Who. I began individual treatments with him centered around board games, an occupation he thoroughly enjoyed.  I began to see improvements within his social skills and self-esteem. By the last day of my affiliation, this client asked another client to play a board game with him- an act that may have been very difficult prior to his engagement in meaningful activity.  Occupational therapy allowed this client to live life to its fullest by enhancing his social participation with others on the unit while sharing a meaningful activity with his peers.  Whether by modifying a task to allow an adult return to work, or providing adaptive equipment to allow a child to eat independently we enable people of all ages and abilities to live a meaningful life to its fullest capacity. This poster helps to reach a new audience of clients and it is up to us to explain how occupational therapy can make a difference in each of their lives!  

  • During my fieldwork level one experience last semester, I was at a sensory integration, pediatric clinic.  After spending four consecutive weeks at the clinic and observing the same children each session, I was able to witness the small but tremendous advances the children made.  However, one little boy stood out to me the most.  The first time I met him, he was quiet, shy and had difficulty in the everyday play tasks children usually engage in.  You could see the sadness and frustration each time he would attempt balance activities throughout his OT session.  As the weeks progressed, so did the boy’s skills.  Not only was his body functioning increasing each week, his attitude and outlook on things did as well.  He always walked in with a huge smile on his face, replacing the old frown and tears.  His outlook on life, specifically the activities and play occupations improved so much in those four weeks.  As an occupational therapy student, I was thrilled to see the huge impact we can have on people’s lives.  Seeing this boy with a grin on his face, eager to come to OT and even more excited to talk about his friends and games and school, made me realize the huge impact we have on the lives of individuals.  

    I would love to one day achieve the same fulfillment with my own clients, whether it be in a physical rehabilitation setting, mental health or pediatric setting.  Just being able to help people engage in occupations that are meaningful to them and to see a smile on their face or a thank you, would make the past five years of education worth it.  Educating others about occupational therapy and spreading the word as an advocate and professional is another thing I would like to accomplish throughout the years in the future.  Special focuses and passions of mine include holistic approaches to therapy; including complementary and alternative therapies in health care.  To be able to educate others about this passion of mine and utilize it in a clinical setting to help my clients is what I am hoping to do in the future.  My hope to accomplish all of this and more is something I know I can achieve and will work hard to.

  • After reading the President's Message from Penny Moyers, thinking about the Centennial Vision and studying the poster, I have decided that "Living Life to Its Fullest" is a perfectly suitable branding message.  

    It is appropriate not because all of the people on the poster look like they are content, and not because all of the symbols display a positive message but because it can mean something different to every client and every therapist.  

    "Living Life to Its Fullest" is an extremely subjective statement however at the same time it is something relatable to all.  In a way that is how I also view the the profession of Occupational Therapy.

    It seems like every time someone asks me "What is Occupational Therapy" I start off by saying ... it is hard to explain because it is different depending on what field you work in, who your client is and what they want and need to do in their lives. I usually continue by giving examples to help explain this.  I may give the situation of a child in an elementary school receiving occupational therapy to help them participate in the classroom with peers or of an older adult who need modifications made at home so they can remain in their house through the again process or of an adult with a brain injury or spinal cord injury who needs rehabilitation in order to get home to their loved ones and return to their work and hobbies.  

    As I reflect on this common occurrence I see the commonality in all situations or examples I provide is that all of these people are receiving Occupational Therapy in order to "live life to its fullest."  What the word "fullest" means is different for every person but that is the beauty of Occupational Therapy, the client and therapist can work together to get whatever or to where ever "fullest" is for that particular client and person.  

    I have witnessed this in all experiences I have had in fieldwork level I and II.  A client's individual goals are all so different yet get that client to the level where they can accomplish what they want and need in life.  Our profession gives the people the power to succeed and supplies the tools for people to continue succeeding and living a life worth living, whatever that may mean for them.

  • “Living Life to Its Fullest”

    In reference to AOTA’s new poster with the message “Living Life to Its Fullest”, the slogan and picture design symbolizes a future of hope and increased satisfaction of the content of one’s life.  The slogan signifies opportunity for increased quality of life, healing, appreciation of self and life, and happiness.

    A personal experience that I have as an occupational therapy student from my mental health level II affiliation regards a patient with Bipolar Disorder.  This patient would often have episodes of mania, diverting from both depression to euphoric states drastically.  The patient was highly motivated for my daily group sessions, and inspired by my objectives of each session.  I put together a protocol which was comprised of the common theme of “management”.  This included time management, stress management, anger management, emotions management, health and wellness management, and problem solving skills management.  The tips and tools for increasing performance during life’s activities were very helpful to this particular patient because it wasn’t her choice of activies that were in need of adjustment, yet the way in which she prioritized her life and manner in which she went about completing and engaging in these tasks.  She took with her many useful tips about organization, appreciation, self-worth, and self-control which helped her to have a greater sense of control over her life, overall increase in daily productivity, decrease in stress and symptoms, and overall increase in happiness.  

    This particular patient was very open in sharing with me her appreciation for the groups, myself as the instructor, and for the profession of occupational therapy for helping her to reach these personal goals.  Sometimes it’s the small things in life that make all the difference, which in her case it made the world.”

  • The slogan "Living Life to its Fullest" is a great slogan to explain what occupational therapists do. We help a variety of people of all ages and ethnicities with different diagnoses live up to their potential and make their lives meaningful to them. When I look at the faces on the poster, I see dreams, aspirations and goals reached that each of these individuals have achieved through the help of occupational therapists. Each individual is unique to their need for occupational therapy but one thing that is consistent throughout each person is that their faces represent the happiness and fulfillment in each of their lives because they are able to live their life to the fullest.  

  • I recently worked with a women who was 95. She had owned her own drapery business in the 40's and 50's. She developed carpal tunnel syndrome and I was treating her for this. Her work involved bunching up heavy material to sew it into the drapes and her hands had started to give her a lot of pain. She was also an actress and dancer in Chicago. She outlived 2 husbands! She was very motivated for therapy and active in the community. At 96 she developed cancer and had a rapid decline.Her son told me that on her death bed she told him that she was NOT ready to go.

    That is what I call "Living Life to its Fullest." !!!

    Patrick Bloom

  • I think that "Living life to its fullest" is a great slogan for our profession. I was lucky enough to attend AOTA's conference in St.Louis and I got to hear Michael Weisskopf speak. I purchased his book afterwards and read about his amazing experiences. In his book he writes about his journey to recovery after sustaining a right arm amputation while reporting for time magazine in Iraq.

    The part of his story that is particularly fitting to the new slogan is when he discusses his experiences with OT. Weisskopf writes " The name made it sound like a job training center. Instead, it helped bodies get working. This was boot camp for amputees, training for life without limbs. The clinic held out potentioal to patients who though they had none; a place to stop grieving and learn how to compensate with technology and ingenuity. The motto was " Whatever works." " ( Taken from Blood Brothers: Among the Soldiers of Ward 57)

    I think Weisskopf explained it perfectly. In a lot of ways that is what we do and it is great to be able to offer that to people. We not only help clients to return to as much normalcy as possible but we offer them tools and techniques that personally work for them and their lifestyles. I believe that the degree of personalizing is what makes it easiest for someone to live life to the fullest. It's what works for them and helps them achieve their own goals.