occupational therapy

An Occupational Therapist is someone who will help manage a patient’s approach to daily activities. Occupational therapy is often used as part of a rehabilitation programme for treating someone recovering from an illness or injury.

The aim of the therapy is to support people whose life’s circumstances make it difficult to partake in the activities that matter to them, i.e.) going to work or daily tasks like cooking a meal. An occupational therapist will assess the situation and person’s condition, offering practical advice and support that will help them manage everyday activities.

Occupational therapy is used to treat and manage a wide range of conditions and needs. Some of these conditions are present from birth, develop with age or are the result of an injury.

Each case is individual and an occupational therapist will find the correct solutions for each patient. Some of the things an occupational therapist will consider includes:

Specialist equipment

An occupational therapist will suggest special tools or pieces of equipment that will help patients cope in everyday life. Some of the specialist equipment they might suggest includes:

  • A walking stick, walking frame or wheelchair
  • An electric can opener
  • An electric toothbrush
  • Knives with large handles
  • Thick, chunky pens
  • Non-slip mats
  • A special keyboard or mouse to help you use a computer
  • Voice controlled technology on a mobile or computer.
  • Voice activated home assistant devices e.g.) Alexa or Google Home
  • A special comb and other specialist hygiene equipment
  •  A device that turns the pages of a book
  • Two-handled cups, tap turners and kettle tippers
  • Bed raisers and hoists
  • Specialist seating
  • Laptop stands

Whatever the difficulty is, an occupational therapist has probably come across it before. They have a wide range of expertise and knowledge on devices that you might not have even known existed. There are also continual developments in technology creating more products to assist in daily life, an occupational therapist will have knowledge of these developments.

Adapting the environment

Some conditions require the external environment to be adapted in order to manage everyday life activities. An occupational therapist will point out hazards and recommend solutions that will improve your quality of life. Some of the solutions they may suggest include:

  • Installing ramps to allow wheelchair access
  • Fitting a stairlift
  • Installing grab rails
  • Raised toilet seats, bath lifts or shower seats
  • Clearing up clutter and reducing hazards
  • Reorganising cupboards or providing visual cues for navigation

The environment can be at home, in public or within the workplace. An occupational therapist will provide their patient with support for installing these adaptations and ensure equal access if afforded to them.

Workplace rehabilitation

Certain injuries and conditions can make returning to work more difficult. An occupational therapist will analyse your workplace and role to ensure that it is suitable for your recovery and condition. They will also help you avoid discrimation or prejudice within the workplace by highlighting your condition to your employer.

An occupational therapist will consider work in any form of employment, volunteer service, and even parenting responsibilities. Some of the things they may suggest for workplace rehabilitation include:

Alternative tasks or assistive measures

You may have to be allocated specific tasks in order to avoid hindering your recovery and  preventing injury. This ensures you are treated fairly whilst still upholding employee responsibilities. E.g.) If a patient was recovering from a back injury, till duties would be a more appropriate task, as opposed to loading heavy stock.

Assistive measures may also be employed in order to enable you to complete employee activities. Assistive measures may include extra personnel to ease the workload or specialist equipment such as digital tablets or mobility supporting chairs.

Managing your condition within the workplace

Some conditions may require you to take medication at certain times in order to cope with pain and discomfort. Conditions may also worsen later on the day or peak at certain times. An occupational therapist will assess your individual circumstances and give advice on how this can be managed within the workplace, especially if you are required to take medication at certain times and within the workplace.

Solutions to managing your condition within the workplace may include reduced working hours, alternative working schedules or even remote working. An occupational therapist will help you reach an agreement with your employer about your condition’s needs and employee responsibilities.

Social Integration

Integrating your condition into your social activities is just as important as workplace rehabilitation. If your condition is preventing you from partaking in hobbies, gatherings or any type of social activity, it may lead to feelings of isolation and depression.

An occupational therapist will help you manage your condition in social settings, ensuring that you are protecting your wellbeing and overall mental health.

Managing old interests and hobbies

If your condition has occurred later in life, you may feel like you have lost the ability to do some of the things you once loved. An occupational therapist will help you manage your condition so that you can still enjoy some of your old interests and hobbies. E.g.)  If you like to go shopping, a mobility scooter could ease discomfort and allow you to get around.

Beginning new activities

An occupational therapist will also have extensive knowledge of specific activities that may be suitable for your condition whilst providing a social activity e.g.) Wheelchair basketball clubs or blind choir groups. These activities offer a source of support with others that have a similar condition to you,  as well as potentially uncovering a talent you didn’t know you had!

Occupational therapist summary

Occupational therapists  are a major source of support for those recovering from illness or injury. They offer guidance, realistic advice and practical solutions to support their patients’ in managing their health conditions. Health conditions can range from anything from depression and anxiety to surgery and head injuries. Occupational therapists encompass the overall well being of patients, from mental health to physical comfort, they ensure that patients can carry on leading healthy and independent lives.

Browse our range of specialist equipment, used by Occupational Therapists here

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