Occupational therapists give people the “skills for the job of living” in order to carry out independent and rewarding lives. In honor of Occupational Therapy Month, we would like to extend a huge “Thank You” to our team of occupational therapists and highlight the benefits of the services they provide. Take the time this month to gain a better understanding and appreciation of occupational therapy services and how they could benefit you or a loved one.
What is Occupational Therapy?
Often, occupational and physical therapy are used interchangeably. While these both benefit patients greatly, there is a significant difference between occupational and physical therapy. Occupational therapy focuses on helping patients perform a wide variety of everyday tasks and activities. In contrast, physical therapy focuses on increasing mobility and strength to an injured area of the body. The primary goal of occupational therapy is to enable patients to participate in the normal activities of their lives, to maintain their independence. By putting patients’ goals first, an occupational therapist is able to create a unique plan that helps achieve these goals.
Who Benefits from Occupational Therapy?
Individuals of all ages and walks of life can obtain a better quality of life from occupational therapy. From pediatrics to geriatrics, occupational therapists play an crucial role recovery and help patients lead an independent lifestyle.
Pediatric Occupational Therapy
Pediatric occupational therapists provide care for infants, toddlers and children with a variety conditions and needs. For instance, occupational therapists may work closely with autistic children to help them develop life skills used in both their school environment and home life. Children with autism typically have social and behavioral issues that are difficult to deal with and complicated to diagnose. The role of an occupational therapist is to help identify these and set goals with the child and his or her family to improve social and behavioral health.
Occupational therapists are also available to work with a child who is experiencing delays in their natural development. Once an occupational therapist is able to identify what’s prohibiting a child from developing certain skills, occupational therapists will introduce activities that help a child continue their development. Some examples that they may assist with include:
- Aid a child in sitting, crawling or walking independently
- Help a child dress themselves
- Introduce activities that develop skills like sharing, taking turns, playing with peers
- Assist a child in coping with failure or disappointment
Children that experience an injury or condition that inhibits their day-to-day life can also benefit from occupational therapy as it can help children learn how to do skills a different way and regain independence.
Occupational Therapy for Rehabilitation Patients
Just like other forms of occupational therapy, rehabilitation goals are oriented around day-to-day living. If an individual is recovering from an injury and needs to return to work, an occupational therapist can help them improve physically so he or she can again perform their job efficiently and safely.
Those recovering from hip, knee or other joint replacement surgery also benefit from working with an occupational therapist. After surgery, an occupational therapist will guide patients through daily activities like sitting, walking and bathing to ensure a full recovery.
Patients recovering from a stroke also find occupational therapists to be a critical part of their recovery. Strokes can cause paralysis, both temporary and permanent, to one side of the body. Symptoms of a stroke affect memory, speech, balance, and vision. An occupational therapist can address issues that were caused by a stroke and assist in finding the best way to gain back independence.
Occupational Therapy for End-of-Life Care
Occupational therapists are available to help older adults thrive in their homes or assisted living communities well into their later years by helping them maintain the skills needed to perform daily activities. Patients with a progressive terminal condition such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, can greatly benefit from occupational therapy as their condition progresses and they lose mobility and function. Therapists will work with them to help modify how they do everyday tasks.
The goals for hospice patients receiving end-of-life care is to typically maintain a good quality of life. Those who are dealing with life-limiting illnesses often find that daily activities become challenging over time. Occupational therapists can help support patients’ engagement in the day-to-day activities to maintain a sense of purpose in their lives. This is especially relevant to activities that help improve an individual's social life. Because long-term illnesses can be so debilitating, the importance of socializing tends to disappear or diminish. An occupational therapist can help patients adapt to their environment to help them find ways to continue social activities while maintaining self-esteem and morale.
Thank You to Our Occupational Therapists
From infants to seniors, occupational therapists provide critical services that help restore patients’ independence and improve their overall quality of life. UnityPoint at Home would like to say, “Thank you!” to our occupational therapists who provide care that has a truly lasting impact on the patients we serve. Find out more information about our caring and compassionate team of Occupational Therapists and UnityPoint at Home today!