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Military OT Spectrum of Care

Last post 08-12-2010, 9:22 PM by Robert Montz. 0 replies.
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  •  08-12-2010, 9:22 PM

    Military OT Spectrum of Care

    As contingency operations continue around the world, the job of an Army Occupational Therapist (OT) continues to become ever more holistic and dynamic.  OT’s traditionally work in hospitals stateside, but our go to war missions are in combat stress control (CSC) units and combat support hospitals (CSH).  The newer onset of Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has led Army OT's to increase the therapeutic realm.  OT’s have been at the forefront in assisting these personnel in coping and dealing with their situations.  Our education and training put us in a unique capacity to rehabilitate and help integrate and transition our military personnel back to duty or into civilian life, whichever they choose.  Army OT’s have become a valued asset on the medical and rehabilitative teams.


    The advances in body armor and other technologies have increased the survivability of Soldiers.  However, it has not been able to protect the head from trauma and the memories associated with combat and deployments.  TBI’s have become the signature wound of this war, mostly due to the use of improvised explosive devices (IED).  The prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the other stressors associated with conflict, separation, deployment, have also been at the forefront of the issues military personnel.


    OT’s have adapted extremely well in dealing with the patient populations that have come with this war.  In stateside hospitals, OT’s are running TBI clinics, amputee centers, outreach and stress control programs as well as their traditional upper extremity clinics and ergonomic programs.  While deployed, OT’s are running CSC units, responsible for employing work hardening and life skill programs to assist Soldiers in dealing with the stressors associated with combat, deployment, and separation from family and friends.  In CSH, OT’s are responsible for upper extremity management, mental health, and general rehabilitation.  The overarching goal is to keep Soldiers in theater when possible and prevent them from having to be evacuated out of the country. 


    Recently, there has been a new initiative of assigning an OT to the medical team of each unit to spearhead the management of TBI at the unit level, assigned with the Soldiers (not the CSH).  The OT can still provide other related services such as upper extremity management, combat stress, ergonomics, burn care, and the treatment of other physical disabilities.  This will continue to enhance the functional return of Soldiers to duty after their injuries, whether physical, cognitive, or mentally.


    Army OT’s are definitely leading the way in managing and assisting Soldiers in their ability to return to duty and complete their occupational tasks.  As the nature of warfare and conflict have changed, so has military medicine and the Army OT.  Our dynamic backgrounds and skills sets enable us to maintain a truly holistic approach to the healthcare and rehabilitation of the Soldier and their family.  


    Please join us at the AOTA Conference in Philadelphia 2011 during a special military presentation series.


    Robert D. Montz

    Major, United States Army

    Regimental Occupational Therapist

    Fort Benning, GA


    Disclaimer:  The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.