Occupational therapy (OT) is an evidence-based practice that supports patients who have challenges when it comes to completing everyday tasks or occupations. Therapists help them live life to the fullest by promoting wellness and preventing (or living better with) injury, illness, or disability. The end goal is to enable the patient to be in an optimal environment that makes life easier.
A patient’s OT timeline will look like the following:
- Complete an extensive physical evaluation
- Identify goals
- Undergo an individualized care plan to reach goals
- Review results to ensure benchmarks are being hit
- Adjust plan if needed
- Set new goals
Occupational therapy is beneficial because it helps to change a patient’s environment in the most effective ways. A patient working through occupational therapy will feel more in control of their life, stronger, and more confident because they have been given the tools to adapt their environment to their lives.
Candidates for Occupational Therapy
Meaningful everyday activities, or occupations, are usually taken for granted. When an everyday life activity becomes impossible to perform, life can easily become less enjoyable and independence is diminished.
If limitations are hindering an individual from activities of daily living (ADLs) such as bathing, using the restroom, getting dressed, eating, moving around, grooming, or sleeping, occupational therapy can help. OT lets people of all ages fulfill the activities they want and need to do.
Adults and children alike can reap the benefits of OT, including those with:
- Autism and other pervasive developmental disorders
- Birth injuries or defects
- Developmental delays
- Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
- Learning disabilities
- Mental health or behavioral problems
- Multiple Sclerosis, Cerebral Palsy, and other chronic illnesses
- Post-surgical conditions
- Sensory processing disorders
- Spina Bifida
- Traumatic brain or spinal cord injuries
What Are the Expected Outcomes of Occupational Therapy?
As a science-driven practice, OT leverages the most recent research so patients can reach the best possible outcomes. According to The American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc., evidence proves that incorporating OT into an appropriate patient’s care plan leads to better results.
For geriatric patients, OT has proven to support independent and active living. Exercises and resistance training encourage mobility and ease of everyday tasks. Falls serve as a dangerous possibility for older patients, so therapists may suggest home modifications to prevent them. Other risks that therapists can help with include driving, reduced vision, stroke, Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, and other chronic illnesses.
Occupational therapy can help children at various stages of life. As infants, OT provides play-based activities that can improve social interaction, reduce crying, increase sleep and relaxation, and encourage motor performance. Older children benefit from a program that lets them rehearse social situations, enhancing their behavior.
Patients with developmental delays or intellectual impairments can improve their life skills and daily interactions through OT. They may take part in role-playing to enhance their conversation and self-management skills.
Whether patients have physical or cognitive disabilities, OT can help them overcome these challenges. Stroke victims and those with neurological impairments will re-learn fine motor skills to encourage independence in everyday tasks.
OT is recommended for patients who have difficulty fulfilling their job responsibilities after an illness or injury. They will undergo a patient-specific care plan with exercises that are exclusive to their occupation. This ensures the worker can safely and efficiently get back to work, boosting confidence upon return.
How Occupational Therapy is Different Than Physical Therapy
Although occupational and physical therapy aims to enhance patients’ quality of life, they have differences. Physical therapy eases pain and improves range of motion, endurance, and gross motor skills. On the other hand, occupational therapy improves cognitive and fine motor skills, helping patients complete daily tasks.
What to Expect at PT Solutions
At PT Solutions, your occupational therapy program will begin with a thorough evaluation of you, the patient. This initial evaluation consists of a discussion about your goals for the therapy program. Occupational therapy is patient-centered, always placing the goals of the patient first.
Your occupational therapist will then design a plan to help manage your daily activities in a more effective way so that you can meet these goals. You will learn new ways of doing basic tasks, and ways to alter your current routines to help make your life easier.
To make sure that the occupational therapy plan is as effective as possible, your therapist may accompany you to work, school, or your usual daily environment. This allows your therapist to recommend special adaptive equipment that can help new routines move into place easily. If new adaptive equipment is recommended, your occupational therapist will work with you as you learn to use the equipment safely and effectively.