April is Occupational Therapy Month!
Occupational Therapists also known as OTs, are an essential part of the rehabilitation team. Individuals who have suffered from a stroke , heart attack or orthopedic injury can benefit from OTs in order to regain independence in their daily lives.
Occupational Therapists were forefront in the rehabilitation field of “purposeful” therapy, meaning doing things that matter! Occupational Therapists will retrain patients on how to do the basic things in life that are the most difficult after an injury, such as holding a glass to take a drink of water.
In addition, to re-teaching a patient the most essential life skills, they also evaluate and develop more complex programs for patients who maybe recovering from an orthopedic injury such as a rotator cuff tear. An OT will build an individualized plan of care along with the orthopedic surgeons so patients can gradually regain lost range of motion and strength in the affected muscles and joints, which allows the patient to return to their normal activities.
In stroke recovery, patients who may only have use of one side of the body will need OTs to help them adapt and learn new strategies to complete self -care necessities such as getting dressed and opening containers on their lunch trays. Also OTs will utilize creative techniques in their treatments to motivate patients in their recovery such as using animals or pets. Dogs are often used by OTs to encourage stroke patients to move their affected body parts. Patients will naturally reach out to pet the dog and unknowingly move their weak affected arms or legs.