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When You Might Need Occupational Therapy…

May 01, 2020

One of our recent blogs talked about the benefits of occupational therapy and what this type of therapy involves. But when would you actually need occupational therapy?

April is National Occupational Therapy Month, so we’re shining a light on the important work that occupational therapists do to help people regain abilities.

In our previous blog, we broke down what occupational therapy is. (If you missed it, click the link to check it out!) In short, occupational therapy helps people relearn or maintain the ability to perform activities involved in daily life.

Lana Hoke, OTR/L, program manager

But now let’s take a look at some different situations where a person might require this type of therapy. Lana Hoke, OTR/L, occupational therapist at Sports Plus Milan, shares some insight:

Occupational Therapy in Action: Recovering After an Injury
The problem: “I broke my wrist and it is swollen. I can’t use my hand to pull up my pants or open a container.”

The solution: An occupational therapist will provide you with manual techniques and exercises to decrease the swelling and help you regain movement and strength in your wrist and hand. The therapist may work to increase your flexibility and work to decrease your pain by using ultrasound treatments or exercises in a fluidotherapy unit. He or she will teach you techniques and exercises you can perform at home. While you are regaining your movement, your therapist can teach you alternative techniques you can use to complete your everyday tasks without help from others. 

Occupational Therapy in Action: Recovering After a Stroke
The problem: “I had a stroke and can barely move my arm. My balance is off and I need help getting dressed.”

The solution: An occupational therapist will work with you to regain the movement and strength of your affected side and to improve your ability to maintain your balance while completing activities that are important to you. He or she will also check out any other underlying issues that may have been caused by the stroke—like visual problems or problems with your thinking skills. While working to improve your strength and balance, he or she can teach you ways to get dressed by yourself, even if you can only use one hand.

Occupational Therapy in Action: Mitigating an Underlying Health Issue
The problem: “I’m having pain and numbness in my arm and it is getting worse every day, affecting my ability to do my job.”

The solution: An occupational therapist can do a thorough evaluation of your muscles and posture to see what might be contributing to your symptoms. He or she will teach you exercises to address any weakness or muscle imbalance you might have and will assess the postures and movements you use during your day at work and provide any suggested changes. Your therapist can teach you the best postures to use and ways you can move throughout the day to help control your pain and numbness so you can continue to be productive in your job. 

Occupational Therapy in Action: Dealing With the Effects of a Chronic Condition
The problem: “I have arthritis in my hands and I am having trouble cooking at home because my hands are so weak.” 

The solution: An occupational therapist will teach you exercises to perform to increase the strength in your hands while protecting your joints. He or she will also inspect your hands and joints to see if some type of splint or support would help you. A therapist will find out what specific things you are having trouble with and can suggest equipment that will help you be able to complete tasks, such as cooking, independently and with less pain. This equipment might be something like an adapted jar/can opener or larger handled utensils. 

Occupational Therapy in Action: Managing the Effects of Parkinson’s Disease
The problem: “I have just been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and am starting to notice my movements slowing down.”

The solution: An occupational therapist certified in the LSVT BIG program will work with you to see what daily tasks are important for you and to see what specific difficulties you are having with them. He or she will teach you exercises to improve the quality of your movement and your overall strength and balance. The therapist will also walk you through the activities you perform in your daily life and retrain your movements during these activities so that you can perform them independently and safely. 

Sports Plus Rehab Centers offer a full spectrum of rehabilitation services, including occupational therapy. With 14 clinics across west Tennessee, SportsPlus is conveniently located close to you.