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Aust Occup Ther J. 2014 Feb;61(1):28-31. doi: 10.1111/1440-1630.12106.

The role of occupational therapy in the recovery stage of disaster relief: a report from earthquake stricken areas in China.

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School of Occupational Therapy, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.


Earthquakes and their destructive forces are unpredictable and difficult to prepare for. Unfortunately, another powerful earthquake of magnitude 7.2 had struck when this report was being prepared. The disabling events have long-term negative impacts on occupational performance of the individuals and communities being affected. Occupational therapy practitioners can use their professional expertise and power of engagement to restore life when individuals and communities are disrupted by natural disaster. The events of the Wenchuan Earthquake have raised awareness of the importance of rehabilitation services in remote areas of China and highlight the need to incorporate rehabilitation in response to the planning of future humanitarian catastrophes. With health agendas advancing rapidly in China, disaster rehabilitation cannot be left behind. Occupational therapists with their holistic, humanistic approach and scientific training can play an important role in restoring physical functions and enhancing occupation participation for survivors of the natural disasters. Active participation in and contribution to research and holistic management of disaster survivors should ensure the occupational therapy profession a seat at the table in future health policy and practice decisions on disaster management.


disaster management; humanitarian crisis and relief; occupational therapy; rehabilitation

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