April is Occupational Therapy Month, the perfect time to learn more about what occupational therapy (OT) is and how it has helped countless patients return to their normal lives. We’re celebrating this month by sharing the benefits of occupational therapy along with an interview with three of Cary Orthopaedics’ occupational therapists.

Occupational therapy practitioners use assessment and intervention to enable people of all ages to develop, recover and maintain meaningful activities – or occupations – in order to lead independent and productive lives. Occupational therapy differs from physical therapy in that it helps those who have lost function or have limited function to perform essential actions such as eating, dressing, work and school activities.

Cary Ortho’s occupational therapists share insights

What type of patients do you treat?

Melissa Clark, OTR/L, CHT: We see the majority of our patients post-operatively. The diagnoses vary but are usually post-op due to trauma (tendon laceration/repairs, fracture care).  We also see a large population of post-op patients for arthritic changes such as joint replacement.

Sarah Rahman OTR/L, CHT: I treat patients with injuries or limitations to the upper extremity, whether it be post-op or conservative.

Marissa Lerit, MSOT, OTR/L: I treat both conservative and post-operative orthopedic patients. I have experience treating a variety of upper extremity conditions such amputations, carpal/cubital tunnel, CMC arthroplasties, hand/forearm/elbow fractures, sprains and strains, osteoarthritis/rheumatoid arthritis, tendon/nerve repairs, tendinopathies, and trigger fingers just to name a few. Additionally, I fabricate custom-made thermoplastic splints for a variety of conservative and post-operative conditions.

How does occupational therapy help patients get back to everyday life?

Clark: I chose to be an OT because I enjoy working with the public. I enjoy the challenge of the upper extremity, its complexity and making custom orthotics.

Rahman: Occupation therapy deals in the occupation of life.  Think about reaching out for a cup of water, picking up your kiddos, doing your job/hobbies or giving your loved ones a hug.  You need the ability to move (range of motion), you need the strength, coordination and level of comfort.  As occupational therapists, we work with you to address these areas with the goal of getting you back to what is important to you.

Lerit: Occupational therapy is essential for enabling clients to get back to their everyday lives. As OTs, we specialize in treating the patient holistically and realize that there are many dynamic factors that go into each person’s current situation. We are trained at analyzing and interpreting how these client factors, performance skills/patterns and contexts/environment interact to form the patient’s current situation. Through careful analysis, OTs can help their clients get back to their meaningful occupations through a variety of conservative and rehabilitative measures.

Why did you become an occupational therapist?

Clark: I chose to be an OT because I enjoy working with the public. I enjoy the challenge of the upper extremity, its complexity and making custom orthotics.

Rahman: I became an occupational therapist because I was once sitting where my patients sit. I know how much a hand or upper extremity injury can affect one’s life.  Every story is different, but I understand how humbling and frustrating an injury can be. I love that I get to help and be a part of a journey to increase independence and quality of life.

Lerit: From an early age, I knew I wanted to be in a profession that required human interaction. I have always been a social person by nature and enjoyed helping people with their problems. In addition, I have always been an avid athlete and had a special interest in both anatomy and psychology. Occupational therapy provided me the opportunity to combine all of my interests into one profession.

What is your favorite aspect of being an occupational therapist?

Clark: Developing patient rapport and seeing the patient progress over the course of their therapy and how it affects their life. I also enjoy working directly with the doctors and surgeons, which provides the opportunity for continued growth and challenge.

Rahman: My favorite part of my job is when a patient walks in excited that they were able to do or complete something that they have been working on or striving for. I love that.

Lerit: My favorite aspect of being an occupational therapist is the ability to help my clients get back to the things they enjoy doing in life again. Additionally, I enjoy the ability to establish a strong therapeutic relationship with each patient I meet. I truly believe that building a strong therapeutic relationship with each patient helps to optimize therapeutic outcomes and patient-centered care.

In your words, why should a patient get occupational therapy at Cary Orthopaedics vs. other practices?

Clark: Our team at Cary Ortho sets us apart from other clinics. We have an excellent occupational therapy program. How our patients experience and interact with all staff from the moment they first walk in until they leave the clinic makes Cary Ortho exceptional.

Rahman: There are many reasons to choose to come here. First, we love what we do, and it shows. I feel that if you truly love what you do the product that you produce is of the highest quality.  Next, we are knowledgeable and hold certifications. We use evidence-based practice to guide our therapeutic process. Lastly, we value great communication with MDs and patients for good continuity of care.

Lerit: Cary Orthopaedics is a top-rated orthopedic practice composed of some very talented and supportive medical professionals. Our company places great emphasis on high-quality orthopedic care, close interprofessional communication, and advanced certifications. From the doctors and medical technicians to the therapists and front office staff, you can be assured that you will be in good hands every step of the way!

Expert occupational therapy in Raleigh, Cary, Morrisville, Holly Springs and the Triangle

Should you or a loved one sustain an orthopaedic injury that prevents you from performing your daily routine, Cary Orthopaedics is a great place to turn. Our OT specialists help patients learn new ways to move and regain strength, so they can return to school, work and everyday life.

Occupational therapy is part of the Cary Orthopaedics physical therapy department. Contact us to make an appointment today.