What Can A Movie Teach Us About Occupational Therapy?

what can a movie teach us about occupational therapyA lovely little French movie is capturing worldwide attention and should be on every therapist’s list of must-sees.  “The Intouchables” is based on the true story of aristocrat Phillippe Pozzo di Borgo, a quadriplegic, and his very unconventional Arab caretaker, Abdel Sellou.  With a few exceptions, mainly the choice of a Sengalese actor, Omar Sy, to play the reluctant caretaker, the movie stays true to the spirit of the original.  Indeed,spirit is at the heart of this tale, and the ability of the spirit to overcome adversity.  Without divulging too much, suffice it to say that caretaker Driss renews Phillipe’s interest in life, including the activity that disabled him.  By sheer instinct, he takes on the roles of occupational therapist, physiotherapist, psychologist and matchmaker, and each one transforms him while reviving Phillipe.

Restoration of a client’s daily activities is the goal of every occupational therapist.  Whether the disability is temporary or permanent, returning a patient to threshold functioning levels can be a challenge. Cases involving severe debilitation demand thinking outside the box, utilizing adaptive equipment and programming, to reduce and remove physical and emotional barriers.  Therapy is too often physio-centric, losing sight of the impact of the psyche on the healing process.  Client-centered practice, on the other hand, must consider a patient’s emotional state.  It requires from both sides a level of trust, openness and respect often made more difficult due to time constraints. Nonetheless, studies have shown that more successful outcomes and higher client satisfaction result from this therapeutic approach than from others .

Despite a lack of training, Driss is fearless about what Phillipe can and cannot do. Recognizing his employer’s need  to reconnect to his pre-accident self, Driss takes them on a hair-raising spin through the city, so Phillipe can once again feel the wind in his face. The moral is clear:  Despite physical or emotional obstacles, one should try to live one’s life fully and fearlessly.  The occupational therapist needs to adopt an approach that is attuned to their client’s needs, empathetic, innovative, fearless and grounded in the idea that every life should be barrier free.

We recommend you to see the film, and we are sure it will inspire you to work towards a life without limits for everyone.  Then call the Centra Healthcare team at 800 535 0076 and let us find you the best venue to put that philosophy of Occupational Therapy into practice.

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