Your Guide to Occupational Therapy

For people who have to deal with injuries, changes to their health, or disabilities that can make life more difficult, such as cooking, dressing, driving, the help of an Occupational Therapist may well be the answer.

Some of the health causes of these issues do not have a short-term treatment. Occupational therapists help by taking a long-term approach, from a holistic basis, to care in order to help their patients participate in the parts of life that they want to.

With safe, proven effective treatments, and a dedicated approach to long term care, Occupational Therapists can play a vital role in helping improve the quality of life of a wide range of patients.

Pearce Brothers Mobility of Bristol has carved out a special niche in our sector, by having our own team of Occupational Therapists to augment our independent living products and services.

Here is an insight into the work that our Occupational Therapists, please do contact us if you would like to engage their very professional healthcare services.

What are Occupational Therapists?

Occupational therapy is an approach to care that is based on helping patients improve their quality of life by allowing them to participate in parts of daily life that they may not otherwise be able to.

As such, Occupational Therapists (or OTs) take an individual approach to the care of each patient. Each injury, illness, or disability can affect patients in different ways.

OTs, understand the importance of a person’s ability to function in daily life with more independence, be it through rehabilitative treatments, technology, or equipment.

While the word “occupational” is in the name, occupational therapists’ work is not necessarily focused on employment or helping people be “ready for work,” even though sometimes their work can help people do just that.

Rather, it refers to what people “occupy” their time with. This can apply to a wide range of activities, focusing on those most important to the patient.

OTs and ADLs (Activities of Daily Living)

The aim of the occupational therapist is to make a lasting and meaningful improvement in the daily lives of their patients, primarily by helping them to better participate in the activities that have meaning to them.

Which activities the patient finds important can change. It can be going to school and playing with friends, or cooking, dressing, driving, or cleaning the home. OTs call these tasks ADLs, which stands for activities of daily living.

We will break down the various ways that occupational therapists help in this, but here are some of the ADLS that you could get help with from an OT:

  • Eating and swallowing
  • Feeding
  • Bathing
  • Showering
  • Toileting
  • Bathroom hygiene
  • Personal hygiene
  • Grooming
  • Dressing
  • Functional mobility
  • Care of others
  • Care of pets
  • Child rearing
  • Communication
  • Driving
  • Financial management
  • Health management
  • Home maintenance
  • Meal preparation
  • Meal clean up
  • Safety procedures
  • Emergency Responses
  • And more

What does occupational therapy treatment entail?

The working methods of Occupational Therapists can vary from OT to OT, as well as from patient to patient, as they help them meet a variety of needs. However, there are three major steps that the treatments tend to follow:

Evaluation: The OT will gather information regarding the patient’s lifestyle, health status, and history, as well as the ADLs (activities of daily living) that are limited that they may want help with. There is a range of assessments OTs can use to get a specific idea of how patients’ ADLs are affected. From here, they can work with patients and their supporters to create a plan of care that outlines specific long-term and short-term goals on how to help meet their needs.

Treatment: The OT will then follow the plan of treatment using physical, emotional, and cognitive therapy methods. This can include a wide range of therapeutic activities, therapy that focuses on the development of cognitive and manual skills, neuro-muscular re-education, as well as the introduction of tools, technologies, and techniques to help patients manage certain ADLs.

Discharge: When a patient has met their goals to the point that they no longer need the routine oversight of an OT to keep making progress, they can be discharged.

The OT will likely keep providing additional help, such as educational materials, training for caregivers, and the like, to oversee their health in the long-term, but does not need to be as hands-on as previously.

Who can an occupational therapist help?

The role of an OT is to help anyone who needs it to participate in the parts of life that are meaningful to them. They usually help those who have more difficulty in doing these ADLs due to injury, illness, or disability. This covers a very wide range of individuals, including the following:

  • Babies, infants, children, and young people: OTs can help younger people of all ages participate in daily life, such as by helping them with self-care such as eating or using the toilet, or through going to nursery or school, and even with leisure activities such as playing with their friends or enjoying hobbies.
  • Patients with a physical disability: Physical disabilities can affect one’s ability to participate in meaningful activities in a range of ways.

OTs can help such patients modify or adapt activities or their environment to make them more accessible in spite of barriers. This includes not just using tools and technology to reduce barriers but also dealing with how patients feel about themselves in relation to their abilities.

  • Patients with a learning disability: OTs can also help people with learning disabilities by helping them find methods of participating independently in a variety of activities, such as using public transport, taking part in mainstream work (voluntary or paid), and more.

They may also work with families and support workers to make sure they have a strong support system. As such, OTs may help individuals with learning disabilities maintain a fulfilling routine by taking part in more ADLs that improve their quality of life in a range of ways.

  • Patients experiencing mental health problems: Many people who experience mental health issues can find themselves less able to participate in self-care, as well as lifestyle management such as communicating, budgeting, work skills, and so on. OTs can help provide assistance to enable them to better take care of these needs independently.
  • Older people: Older people can get less independent over time. OTs can help them maintain more of their independence in a variety of ways while supporting a more social life, helping them establish more social contact, and building confidence in meeting new people and taking part in ADLs.

The answer to “who should work with an occupational therapist?” is “anyone who needs help participating in the parts of daily life that they feel excluded from.”

Hopefully, we have given you a better understanding of what an occupational therapist does and what they could potentially do for you.

If you would like to speak with us about our Occupational Therapy service, please click here.

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