Occupational Therapy in My Backyard

by Cheryl Hall on January 17th, 2023

As an OT provider, you know that OT and its practice and purpose can be a bit obscure, but not this week for this OT!

First, I went over to say hello to the neighbor who just moved in behind me and found out she is an OT too! How fun to meet a stranger and not have to explain what I do. Instead we had an instant connection and bonded about practicing OT for a bit.

The next day my husband and I decided our date of the month would be at the Maryland Center for History and Culture. (Sidebar: if you don’t schedule regular, proper dates with your partner, I highly recommend putting one on your calendar today.) As lovers of antiques and history, we were very interested in the exhibit of Baltimore Quilts – “Wild and Untamed”.

Baltimore Quilts are very recognizable. Colorful and unique, this style of quilt used complex appliqued blocks on a white background. Historically, many Baltimore Quilts were created by a group and most are signed so learning the history of the quilters is part of the fun.

So, what was the OT connection? I stopped at the first exhibit and the name Dr. William Rush Dunton Jr. jumped out! The exhibit was as much about OT as it was the quilts themselves. Dr. Dunton, known as the father of OT, practiced at the world renowned Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital in Baltimore. He utilized a number of therapeutic occupations like gardening, woodworking and weaving with his psychiatric patients, but was most passionate about quilting. Dr. Dunton believed that the level of concentration required by quilting helped distract patients from their mental distress and the repetitive nature of the task was soothing. He also recognized the added benefits for those working on a Baltimore Quilt. The quilt blocks were often individually designed so creativity was required, and many Baltimore Quilts used a collection of blocks designed by different quilters, so the project gave participants a special sense of community.

While Dr. Dunton is best known for his work as a pioneer in occupational therapy for persons with mental health diagnoses, he is also authored the book Old Quilts in 1947 which detailed many of the Baltimore Quilts and their social history. So, if you are close to the Baltimore area, make time to check out the exhibit or visit the center online at MD Center for History and Culture Exhibit: Wild and Untamed

P.S. Be sure to schedule a date with your special someone today!

  • About Me

    Cheryl Hall
    Occupational Therapist
    Maryland, United States

    Welcome to a site devoted to sharing experience, knowledge and resources to make your job of being a great therapist a lot easier.

    I have been an occupational therapist for more than 30 years. I graduated from San Jose State University with degrees in Occupational Therapy, Gerontology, and Early Child Development. My passion is working with adults and children in home health but I have also worked in rehab, sub-acute rehab, hand therapy, transitional living for TBI, and hospital-based outpatient settings.

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