Thousands of individuals undergo occupational therapy (OT) to improve the quality of their life. As of 2019, there were over 140,000 occupational therapists in the United States. Yet, few people understand what OT is and how it can help them in their everyday lives. We’re celebrating National Occupational Therapy Month this April by explaining exactly what it is and how it could help you get back to your regular activities.
What is occupational therapy?
Occupational therapy helps people of all ages accomplish the tasks that they need and want to do through therapeutic techniques for daily activities. The main goal of occupational therapy is to teach patients to adapt through holistic means. OT helps to restore range of motion and mobility in the upper extremities in order to complete the activities needed to get back to your occupation. During an appointment, you will learn how to finish your daily tasks like cleaning, cooking, working, etc., through useful tools (assisted living devices) or methods that work best for your body.
People have relied upon OT since the early 1900s, especially when wounded soldiers came home from war. Occupational therapy did not receive recognition until 1920 in Ontario, Canada. From there, new guidelines and requirements began to help expand and professionalize the practice. Now, OT is employed all over the world.
How could OT help me?
People of all ages, including infants, children and the elderly can undergo occupational therapy. The best part about OT is that it can help treat a range of conditions, including arthritis, chronic pain, joint issues, brain injury, spinal cord injury, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, diabetes, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis and more. Some children who have ADHD, birth defects, autism, juvenile arthritis or severe injuries and burns can also participate in occupational therapy.
Where can you get occupational therapy?
Luckily, you can visit an occupational therapist at many different places. Some therapists will even meet you at your home, workplace or school. The common places that these therapists meet patients include hospitals, rehab centers, outpatient clinics, nursing homes, assisted living homes and private practices.
At Cary Orthopaedics, occupational therapy is part of our physical therapy department.
What is an OT appointment like?
On your first visit, your therapist will meet with you one on one to go over your medical history and your condition to determine the right plan for your individual goals. Once a plan is established, they will work with you to set goals.
The common activities involved in an appointment include but are not limited to:
- Helping patients relearn how to do basic daily tasks like bathing or putting clothes on.
- Assessing your home, school or work environments to find and implement ways to make your life easier.
- Teaching you how to use assistive devices like wheelchairs, grabbers, walkers, etc.
- Showing you exercises to help strengthen your flexibility or reduce pain.
- Teaching you strategies to manage stress.
- Showing you programs to help you reenter the workforce or school
- Assisting you with safely getting in and out of chairs, beds, showers, as well as on and off of couches and toilets.
- Educating loved ones and caregivers on how to effectively support and help you in your everyday life.
Your therapist will create a personalized game plan for you. Always consult them if you have any issues, questions or concerns.
How long should you expect to do OT?
The length of occupational therapy treatment differs for each person. Some patients will only need weeks, while others will need months or even years. You may also see an occupational therapist on and off throughout your life since people go through different challenges, tasks or obstacles in life. Your therapist will give you a detailed outline of what they expect from you and how to reach all of your goals. Always be open with your therapist if you know you can take on more or if you need to take on less. Everything goes along with your pace, but remember that it will take a lot of hard work, dedication and motivation to improve your life’s quality.
What is life like after OT?
Occupational therapy is a means to improve the quality of your life. Therefore, after finishing your OT appointments, you should feel mentally and physically better. Most patients are able to perform the daily tasks that gave them trouble before OT. Depending on the reason you first saw an occupational therapist, your life may go back to normal. If you ever go through a hard time, remember everything your therapist taught you and reach out to your support system. You are never alone.
Want to learn more about occupational therapy? Or, are you looking for an occupational therapist? Look no further! We have skilled occupational therapists ready to help you. For more information or to schedule an appointment, give us a call today.