Public awareness and understanding of the professions of occupational therapy and physical therapy are limited. In this study, we examined perceptions of young school-aged children about occupational therapy and physical therapy as part of a larger grant project funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (R25 DA12168 and R25 DA13522). One hundred three elementary school children (55 boys and 48 girls), grades 3 to 7, from local schools attended a one-day neuroscience and allied health profession exposition held at a local Boys & Girls Club. Children's understanding of occupational therapy and physical therapy was assessed through a pre/post questionnaire prior to and immediately after attending the exposition. At five of the 18 exhibition booths, faculty members and students from occupational therapy and physical therapy introduced and explained what occupational and physical therapists do at their work through interactive demonstrations. The results of the current study revealed that prior to attending the exposition, children's understanding of occupational therapy and physical therapy was limited. On pre-test, children reported they have some understanding of occupational therapy (18.6%) and physical therapy (34.9%). Children's understanding of occupational therapy and physical therapy, however, dramatically increased after the exposition (75.6% vs. 18.6%, 98.9% vs. 34.9%, respectively). Furthermore, the scope and depth of children's understanding also improved considerably. This finding suggests that an interactive neuroscience exposition including occupational therapy and physical therapy is an effective way to promote children's awareness and understanding of the professions. Implications for practice and future research directions are discussed in the study.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Occupational Therapy