By: Jean Facteau, OTR/L, RAC-CT, ATP
Lexi Roach, Field Marketing Specialist
National Occupational Therapy month could not have come at a better time! Now more than ever our patients need occupational therapy so they can continue to participate in meaningful activities and live their lives to the fullest. We are truly grateful for our therapy heroes on the front lines and all they are doing to provide excellent care. To celebrate National Occupational Therapy month, we put together a special feature on the importance of occupational therapists or commonly referred to in the industry as OT’s and why they are vital in helping patients achieve their goals.
What does an occupational therapist do?
Having a sense of purpose helps people to maintain their function and independence. When that is somewhat thwarted by a traumatic event, medical condition or diagnosis, an OT can help to restore functional abilities by working on safe ways to continue participating in daily activities, or “occupations.” Adaptation is the name of the game for our beloved OTs and COTAs, and truly all Blue Sky Therapy employees.
The primary goal is to assist patients in adapting to life changes and improve their ability to perform meaningful activities. It is important to us that the patients we serve are still able to perform daily activities that are important to them even after a life altering condition or event.
If a patient loves to go on daily hikes outside but has an accident that prohibits hiking for a period of time, an OT may find creative ways to safely allow the patient to be doing what they love outdoors, even if modified for the time being. They are creative strategists that come up with unique ideas and solutions so patients can continue their favorite activities restoring that sense of purpose!
OTs are also flexible in that they can travel and cater to a variety of patient needs by implementing treatment in a patient’s home, in clinics, hospitals, schools, or even in their workplaces.
How does an occupational therapist help?
After they assess your clinical needs and determine your goals for participating in meaningful daily activities, they will develop a customized treatment plan with objectives for restoring or maintaining functional abilities. For geriatric patients, an OT treatment plan may include some of the following objectives:
- Train the patient on use of assistive devices (ex: using a reacher to put on their pants)
- Educate the patient on safety awareness in their home and in the community
- Physical interventions such as exercises to build muscle strength, increasing endurance/stamina, and balance improvement techniques
- Implement activity modifications or compensatory strategies for functional impairments or cognitive deficits (ex: create a customized written/pictorial daily schedule to remind patients with memory loss the steps to perform their morning routine independently)
- Work on fine motor skills and upper body coordination (ex: using a fork, reaching to retrieve a cup out of the cabinet)
- Educate the patient on the best practices to help them achieve their goals and achieve the highest possible functional outcome
OT Patient Success Story
One of our COTAs, Billie H., had the opportunity to work with a male patient who was in his 50's that had experienced a massive stroke. Prior to his stroke, this patient enjoyed the time he spent with his horses. Billie and the patient worked together to get him home and back in the barn! Billie worked with another staff member that had horses, so she brought in tack which Billie used to help the patient work on coordination with the reigns/halter/bridle. Ultimately, the patient was able to successfully return home and continue to enjoy his horses! For years, when Billie would see the patient out in the community, he always would thank her. It is success stories like this one that motivate our OTs/COTAs to continue to work hard and provide quality care to our patients. Our OTs/COTAs make positive contributions every day to patients’ health and safety, as well as their overall wellbeing and happiness!
About Blue Sky Therapy
Blue Sky Therapy delivers innovative physical, occupational, and speech therapy services in skilled nursing homes, assisted living facilities, home health care, in-home therapy, and outpatient therapy clinics. Our newest service line, Teletherapy, allows our therapists to work with patients virtually at home instead of in the clinic.