American farmers feed the world. When we pop into Safeway or Wegman's and fill our carts with vegetables and meat, most of us don't consider the effort that went into producing the food that nourishes our families.
Farming and ranching are physically demanding and dangerous jobs. The hours are long and equipment and chemicals present hazards other occupations don't have.
These agricultural jobs cause 120,000 injuries each year and about 5% of those result in lifelong disability. Farmers and ranchers are a stubborn bunch and they don't want to give up working.
That's where Occupational Therapy can help. Through the National AgrAbility Project, occupational therapists in every state help farmers, ranchers and other agricultural workers maintain their livelihoods by teaching them to cope with limitations from accidents, repetitive injuries and chronic conditions. They deal with everything from amputations to spinal chord and brain injuries, arthritis, hearing and sight impairment and even mental health issues. One therapist who shared her experience is Danyele Clingan, a doctoral student in OT from the University of Indianapolis who partners with the AgrAbility Project, which in turn is sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture.
OTs evaluate the limitations that farmers face and find ways for them to adapt and keep working. An individual treatment plan is developed for each patient. "Instead of telling them they can't go back to the farm, we modify the environment or task so that they can return," says Clingan.
AgrAbility programs provide individual services that allow farmers and ranchers to have a greater degree of independence after what seemed at first to be an insurmountable barrier to their former way of life. Clingan and other OTs are assisting people who love the land and are proud of the work they do to feed not only those in our country, but folks around the world.
There are a myriad of opportunities working as an Occupational Therapist. For expert help in finding your ideal position, contact us. And if interested in learning more about this and related topics, visit the Healthcare section of our blog.
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