Wounded Soldiers Regaining their Independence

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance!  This is the day that we honor all of the brave soldiers that lost their lives in war and those that continue to sacrifice themselves for our country.  Many of these men and women not only lost their partners and close friends to war, but some have experienced other personal loses as well.  Daily, countless soldiers are injured and have to cope with living the rest of their lives with a physical disability such as an amputation or severe burns.  Others have to face the devastating effects of a traumatic brain injury.  Whatever effect the war may have had on them, they are now forced to face life with a different perspective.  What was once automatic and relatively easy has now become a challenge.  These life altering experiences make it difficult for soldiers returning home to resume their lives with the same level of ease and independence.  As a result, they often require rehabilitative services to increase their level of functioning and regain their lost independence.  

 Since World War I, occupational therapists have helped injured soldiers to heal mentally and physically. They have trained soldiers with disabilities to regain skills they need in order to function on a daily basis, as depicted on the TIME Magazine’s article “America’s Next War”. As occupational therapists, our goal is to help individuals with disabilities become more independent in performing day to day activities.  These may include activities that are meaningful and/ or purposeful such as bathing, dressing, grooming, moving around the home independently, preparing a meal, or returning to work after an injury.  As well as, those activities considered enjoyable such as leisure ones. Home modification is an emerging area of practice in the field of occupational therapy and one that is helping soldiers with disabilities adjust to civilian life.  Occupational therapists are uniquely positioned to provide this specialized service thanks to their in-depth knowledge of human function, task analysis, and the effect of the physical environment on human capabilities.   An adaptation or modification can consist of something as simple as installing a grab bar in the bathroom for support; lowering kitchen cabinets for those who are in a wheelchair; or installing a chair lift for accessibility purposes.  Through the implementation of home modifications, injured soldiers can regain their independence and engage in those activities that are important to them.  As occupational therapists, it is rewarding to know that we are able to provide such a unique service to those soldiers who have so graciously given so much. 


Esther Gonzalez, M.S. OTR/L Bil TSHH
Adapting Spaces, LLC

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