The Importance of Occupational Therapy

Graphic featuring older woman going through occupational therapy, reading “The Importance of Occupational Therapy”

Whether you’re recovering from an injury, dealing with chronic pain, or adjusting to life with a disability, resuming daily activities can be difficult. In these cases, an occupational therapist can help you adapt to new routines and make it easier to perform tasks related to your job, school, housework, and more.

Depending on the patient’s condition, pain level, or disability, there is a wide range of different practices used in occupational therapy. The goal, however, is the same: to improve the patient’s ability to perform everyday activities and better their sense of independence.

When to Consider Occupational Therapy

It may be time to consider occupational therapy if you or your loved one’s ability to perform everyday tasks is impacted by a condition, disease, or disability, including:

  • Stroke
  • Developmental delay
  • Poor vision or partial blindness
  • Chronic pain
  • Brain or spinal trauma
  • Mental illness
  • Joint replacement
  • Burns
  • Sensory processing disorder
  • Neurological conditions

Occupational Therapy Treatment Options

Before beginning occupational therapy, the therapist will evaluate the patient by observing and assessing their needs. This may include accompanying the patient to their job, watching them perform daily activities, and discussing the patient’s main concerns. With that information in mind, the therapist designs a plan with treatments that can help the patient meet their goals.

Depending on the results of the evaluation, occupational therapy treatments may focus on:

  • Improving the ability to do activities of daily living (bathing, dressing, toileting, cooking, cleaning, etc.)
  • Improving fine motor skills or hand-eye coordination
  • Learning to use adaptive equipment (power chair, dressing stick, grab bar, etc.)
  • Compensating for memory loss
  • Relearning job-related activities
  • Reorganizing the home for ease of access

The Benefits of Occupational Therapy

Improved Independence

One of the biggest benefits of occupational therapy is that it can help improve the patient’s sense of independence. Especially for older adults, loss of independence can contribute to depression and feelings of anger.

Many people receive occupational therapy because it’s become difficult to complete everyday tasks without help. While occupational therapy may not completely negate the need for assistance from equipment or a caregiver, patients will learn new ways to perform these tasks, which can provide an improved sense of independence.

Improved Cognitive Skills

Occupational therapists don’t just offer physical assistance; they can also help those who are struggling cognitively. Patients who’ve suffered from brain tumors, strokes, mental illness, or neurological diseases can have difficulty with daily cognitive tasks, like paying bills, making decisions, or planning a schedule of events.

Occupational therapists aim to improve patients’ cognitive function through various adaptive strategies. Meichenbaum’s Go-Plan-Do-Check is an example of one such strategy used to build problem-solving skills by providing a simple framework that can be applied to almost any context.

Improved Motor Skills

Many activities of daily living are impacted by a patient’s motor skills, both fine and gross. Occupational therapists may utilize physical exercises or activities to help build strength and control in those areas—using tweezers or doing puzzles, for instance.

Ongoing Support

Occupational therapists are a valuable source of ongoing support, whether the therapy is used short-term during injury recovery or to help patients adjust to their “new normal” with a disability. With experience and knowledge on their side, occupation therapists can:

  • Provide suggestions for adaptive equipment post-treatment
  • Train family members to assist their loved ones
  • Provide emotional support during times of change and uncertainty

Occupational Therapy with Good Shepherd

Senior Self Care Infographic

At Good Shepherd, we partner with Aegis Therapies to provide superior speech, physical, and occupational therapy to our patients. With a patient-centric approach to occupational therapy, Aegis customizes treatment plans based on the unique needs and abilities of each patient. They offer occupational therapy on an in-patient and out-patient basis, as well as for short stays in nursing homes and home care within a 30-mile radius.

Patients who have completed occupational therapy with Aegis have shown remarkable developments in ability and independence. 85% of residents admitted for short term care at Good Shepherd show functional improvement, and our occupational therapy scores for self-care exceed those from care centers within a 51-mile radius.

If you’d like to learn more about occupational therapy through Good Shepherd and Aegis Therapies, visit our website or contact our staff today.

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