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The benefits of occupational therapy

Last Modified: April 29, 2022

Family Medicine

Occupational therapy

In honor of Occupational Therapy Month, we decided to take a closer look at the profession and the skilled therapists within it. Christine Barnett, OTR/L, PPG - Occupational Therapy, Bryan, Ohio, helps explain this branch of health care and how it helps people regain independence in all areas of their lives.

An overview

At its heart, occupational therapy is a science-driven, evidence-based profession that enables people of all ages to participate independently in daily living with injury, illness or disability. Occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants are experts in helping people perform the tasks they want and need to do each day, like making meals, dressing, managing medications, driving or caring for family members. We accomplish this by designing adaptive strategies for day-to-day activities and customizing environments to maximize potential while achieving optimal quality of life.

Additionally, by taking a patient’s psychological, physical, emotional, and social health into account, occupational therapy can help individuals:

  • Achieve their goals
  • Function at the highest possible level
  • Concentrate on what matters most to them
  • Maintain or rebuild their independence
  • Participate in everyday activities
Chronic disease and occupational therapy

Occupational therapy also plays a significant role in reducing the impact Covid-19 has on chronic disease and elderly populations due to decreased activity. A significant decline in psychosocial status, functional independence, safety and health has been observed due to an overwhelming fear of infection. Many choose not to leave their homes, whether for medical intervention or social activities with friends and family, because they do not want to become ill. However, the path to health and well-being hinges on participating in normal daily activities and occupations. Sadly, nothing has felt normal for any of us over the past two years. Fortunately, occupational therapy focuses on enabling clients to maximize their capacity to participate in life activities that are important and meaningful to them, promoting overall health and wellness.

How it works

Take, for instance, an 80-year-old client with underlying health conditions of COPD and arthritis. They live alone, have limited contact with family or friends, avoid going out in public, struggle with meal preparation and home management, have fallen twice in the last three months, and recently informed their provider of their feelings of depression. This individual would benefit greatly from a referral to occupational therapy services.

This patient’s treatment plan would likely focus on education, adaptation, exercise, and balance training, but first, the evaluating therapist would complete a thorough assessment. They would start by discussing their health history, current concerns, home environment, social support network, cognitive skills, vision, psychosocial status, balance skills, and physical function. Then, they would discuss the evaluation results and any therapy goals the patient might have to tailor a treatment plan to meet the individual’s needs while optimizing their functional independence, safety, and quality of life.

Where to turn for help

If you or a loved one experience a decline in daily functional status or quality of life, please speak with your primary care provider to see if a referral to outpatient occupational therapy services may be necessary. For more information regarding rehabilitation or occupational therapy and services in Ohio, call 419-633-5485. For therapy and services in Indiana, please visit the Rehabilitation & Therapy Services page to find a location near you. We look forward to assisting you and helping you live life to the fullest.

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