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Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapy at PT Solutions

The occupational therapy program at PT Solutions offers a unique blend of science, creativity, and compassion delivered in a variety of effective treatments. Whether your goal is to better complete everyday functional tasks or to complete a meaningful milestone, our therapists can design a program tailored to you. These programs are beneficial as they change your environment in the most effective way possible, helping you feel in control of your life and giving you the confidence and strength you need to adapt to your environment.

WHAT IS OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY

What Is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapy is a treatment designed to help people adapt in relation to pain, injuries, illnesses, and disabilities that may make it difficult to carry out everyday tasks. Anyone struggling with schoolwork, job performance, self-care, household chores, or movement can benefit from occupational therapy and the tools it provides.

How Does Occupational Therapy Help You? 

Each person who seeks occupational therapy will have a different plan based on their specific challenges and goals. This means that the practice also helps each patient in a unique way, but there are common benefits that we see as well. The biggest benefit for most people is an increase in their independence. Something as simple as bathing or dressing yourself or going to the bathroom alone can make a huge difference in a patient’s life. These goals are the specific focus of an occupational therapist.

Occupational therapy can also improve strength and endurance in physical or cognitive tasks and address cognitive and visual deficits. In addition to these skills, occupational therapists can train caregivers and train patients on the use of adaptive equipment and home modifications.

Who Benefits From Occupational Therapy? 

Almost anybody who struggles with a task can benefit from occupational therapy. It can be used on anyone from children to the elderly for a range of conditions. Occupational therapists can also visit a workplace or school to help with more general skill-based learning.

What Does Occupational Therapy Treat? 

Some common health problems that bring people to occupational therapy include:

  • Arthritis and chronic pain
  • Stroke recovery
  • Brain injuries
  • Joint replacement
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Impaired vision
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Mental health and behavior issues

Children may also benefit from occupational therapy to treat birth defects, ADHD, autism, and other injuries.

How Does Occupational Therapy Work?

Each occupational therapy program begins with a thorough evaluation where you share your goals and challenges with a therapist. Based on this discussion and physical assessments, your therapist can create a plan to help you manage daily activities in a more effective way. Throughout the course of your plan, you will review results to ensure benchmarks are being hit and adjust as needed. As you achieve goals, you will set new ones and repeat the process.

How Does OT Help Children With Disabilities? 

When children begin to display signs of developmental delays or conditions that have a high probability of delay, occupational therapy is a key part of early intervention plans. This therapy is usually focused on improving motor, cognitive, sensory processing, communication, and play skills in a relevant combination. The goal for pediatric occupational therapy is to enhance development and minimize the potential for developmental delay, while helping families and caregivers meet the special needs of their children.

Occupational therapy used as early intervention is focused on the family and providing support to the child’s environment. This may mean that in addition to the typical practices, siblings and parents may be brought in, or a therapist may visit the home to help make accommodation recommendations.

What Services Does Occupational Therapy Include? 

Occupational therapy begins with assessments in which a therapist observes the patient performing certain tasks. This observation will allow them to create a plan to improve the skills of the patient based on their unique challenges and goals. This plan can involve a number of exercises and treatments. Common examples may include: 

  • Fit and provide assistive devices like raised toiler seats and wheelchairs
  • Teach new ways to do tasks like button a shirt, tie shoes, take a shower, or use a computer
  • Help prevent falls
  • Improve balance in stroke victimsOrganize medications and household tools
  • Build hand-eye coordination
  • Practice motor skills like holding a pencil

Sessions will often involve teaching a technique and practicing it, as well as education of caregivers.

How Does Occupational Therapy Help With Injuries? 

While many people seek occupational therapy to address delays or progressive conditions, it is also extremely beneficial to people who have suffered from injuries are seeking rehabilitation. When injuries impair the ability to perform certain tasks and impede physical abilities, part of recovery may include occupational therapy to help return to the prior level of ability. The principles will remain the same as occupational therapy used to treat other conditions, though there may be protocols to follow to prevent re-injury or worsening of the existing problem.

It is also very common to use occupational therapy as a treatment for work-related injuries. In these cases, the therapist can help patients practice their skills needed to return to work, as well as recommend practices to avoid the same injuries occurring in the future.

WHAT DOES AN OCCUPATIONAL THERAPIST DO

What Does an Occupational Therapist Do?

All occupational therapy services are performed by professionals called occupational therapists. These providers use therapeutic techniques to teach everyday skills to patients who need to develop, recover, improve, or maintain these skills.

Do Occupational Therapists Undergo Special Training? 

To be an occupational therapist, you must have at least a master’s degree in occupational therapy, though some providers have a doctoral degree as well. Each educational program requires a bachelor’s degree and some specific coursework in areas like biology or physiology. These programs are accredited through the American Occupational Therapy Association. A master’s degree can take 2 to 3 years to complete, while a doctoral program is about 3 and a half years, and each requires at least 24 weeks of supervised fieldwork.

Once someone has the proper degree, they must also be licensed in their state to practice as an occupational therapist. Requirements vary by state, but each state requires candidates to pass a national exam administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, as well as take continuing education courses to maintain certification.

 

Are Occupational Therapists Doctors? 

Some occupational therapists have a doctoral degree, making them a Doctor of Occupational Therapy. These professionals are highly trained and specialized in occupational therapy. However, they are not medical doctors with an MD.

What to Expect At Your First Appointment 

Your first appointment with an occupational therapist will be an evaluation more than anything. They may have already reviewed your medical records for relevant history but will want to understand your concerns directly as well. You will likely discuss your daily life and goals, as well as any conditions or incidents that prompted you to see treatment. After you speak, there will also be physical assessments performed to assess your general health and your abilities. This may involve testing range of motion, muscles, sensation, and coordination.

If it is decided that you are a good candidate for treatment, the occupational therapist will outline a plan for you that is tailored to your goals. They may begin using treatments at this visit, or it will begin at future sessions. Each visit will be a mix of modalities like manual therapy, exercises, and education.

What Are the Benefits of Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapy can benefit most people in a variety of ways, including improving their quality of life and overall health.

How Occupational Therapy Helps with Your Daily Activities 

The main focus of treatment will be simple activities that many people take for granted, like using the restroom alone or tying shoes. Many sessions will focus directly on practicing these skills and incorporating adjustments that make them easier to perform. These are known as adaptive strategies and may focus on energy conservation, environmental changes, or the use of adaptive equipment.

How Can Occupational Therapy Improve Your Quality of Life? 

Rather than healing an injury or reversing a condition, the main goal of occupational therapy is to improve quality of life by fostering independence and other abilities. Being able to perform activities independently and to adapt to an environment is not only beneficial for physical health and can slow the progression of illness, but it is also a positive contributor to mental health.

In addition to the skills patients gain through occupational therapy, caregivers and family members are also educated and empowered to offer assistance where possible. By making the home environment as accommodating as possible, quality of life is further improved.

Make Life Easier with Occupational Therapy 

Occupational therapy will measure success by how much easier the life of the patient becomes. By overcoming obstacles in daily tasks, enhancing physical health and emotional well-being, and creating safe living spaces, occupational therapy can make a huge difference for a range of clients.

Overcoming Everyday Difficulties with Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapy and Mobility 

Mobility can mean a range of things to different people. Physical therapy often focuses on mobility in terms of the ability to walk, run, and move the body. Occupational therapy may help with this or make it safer to do by preventing things like falls, but the focus is not on mobility of the body. Instead, assistive devices may be used in occupational therapy to help with things like transfer to and from a bed or use of a wheelchair. The ability to drive and use public transportation may also be a part of OT as skills that increase mobility.

How Occupational Therapy Helps with Arthritis 

A common reason for seeking occupational therapy is to manage joint inflammation, known as arthritis. There are hundreds of forms of this disorder, but osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the most common. Both can impact the ability to properly move the body, use fine motor skills like grasping, and comfortably walk.

Occupational therapy seeks to help people with arthritis maximize their ability to participate in activities safely and with little pain. While OT will not reverse or stop arthritis from developing, it can greatly improve the quality of life for people impacted.

Is There a Proper Age to Start Occupational Therapy? 

There is no limit on when occupational therapy can begin. It has been shown to be effective in everyone from infants to the elderly, depending on their needs and goals. As many developmental delays become apparent in childhood, it is very common for children to see an occupational therapist as part of an early intervention program. Some children will continue treatment for their whole lives, while others gain the necessary skills and continue to develop appropriately.

In the same way, it is also never too late to begin. Older adults can use occupational to regain skills they have lost, maintain a skill, or address the progression of various conditions.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Are Occupational Therapists Doctors?

Many occupational therapists hold a doctoral degree, meaning they are doctors. However, they are not medical doctors with an MD.

What Does Occupational Therapy Treat? 

In some cases, there is no diagnosis needed for occupational therapy to be appropriate. It may be used to address single skill-related issues or to prevent workplace problems. However, it is generally used for people with mental disabilities, injuries, or impairments. Some examples may include:

  • Amputations
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Brain injuries, dementia, and Alzheimer’s
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • ADHD
  • Down’s Syndrome
  • Spina Bifida

Does Insurance Cover Occupational Therapy? 

Most insurance plans cover some form of occupational therapy. However, coverage can vary widely depending on your plan. Most of the time, a doctor must refer you for occupational therapy, and some may also allow for certain settings or services. If you are unsure about your coverage, you can contact your insurance provider or ask the PT Solutions staff for assistance in understanding your benefits.

What Is an ADL? 

ADL stands for an activity of daily living. These are tasks most people carry out daily, like bathing, using the restroom, eating, and brushing their teeth. Most occupational therapy focuses on the ability to carry out ADLs.