How Occupational Therapy Works to Help Regain Skills Used Every Day
Occupational therapy sounds like it has something to do with a job or career. Actually, though, in terms of rehabilitation, occupational therapy is all about promoting independence in daily living skills that likely were compromised by injury, illness or surgery. Daily living skills include bathing, grooming, dressing, using the toilet, preparing a meal and even getting on and off a bed, or in or out of a vehicle.
Therapists educated in occupational therapy are specialists in retraining residents in those daily living skills they'll routinely need at home. Those skills might be everything from getting a cup out of a cupboard to make coffee, baking something, tying a shoe or even just buttoning a shirt with fingers that are no longer as nimble as they previously were.
For many people, learning to master basic skills they once never even thought about can be more than just a little frustrating. Once they get involved with occupational therapy, however, they're generally delighted to realize that even if they can't quite regain the dexterity they once had, there are all sorts of tricks and techniques to help them compensate. For instance, adaptive equipment such as reachers, long-handled shoe horns or adaptive silverware help them perform daily living tasks, and it's an occupational therapist who shows them how to use those devices.
We also include a special program in which short-term residents can practice the skills they're learning in our real-life, apartment-like setting to see if what they've learned is something they can confidently carry over into their own home environment when they leave us. We provide this because it's one thing to have a therapist work with you on equipment and techniques. It can be quite another to employ those techniques on your own without a therapist at your side. Click our video to understand how this works
Occupational therapists also work with patients on cognitive deficits, assisting them to sequence daily tasks as needed.
And, although the focus of occupational therapy is different from that of physical therapy, it's also great for helping patients with upper extremity strengthening and endurance while teaching them to protect their muscles and joints.