April 25, 2019

What is Occupational Therapy and when do you need it?

General Health

Many of us take the daily movements of our bodies’ limbs, joints, and muscles for granted, because they help us with movements that we really don’t need to think about – such as brushing our teeth, preparing food, walking, driving, writing, using a computer or a phone, and so on. Some people need to use their bodies more physically at work than other professions due to the type of employment they have. When the ability to coordinate movement to complete a task in daily life is limited or altered due to surgery, injury, or developmental changes, occupational therapy is often required. During the month of April, we focus a little extra attention on occupational therapy professionals and the work that they do.

Occupational Therapy is a type of rehabilitation that physical therapists provide. These types of therapists are called occupational therapists (OTs). They have received specialized training in their field, making the treatments they provide a bit different than what an athletic trainer or traditional physical therapist would provide.

Occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants help people across their lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities (occupations). Common occupational therapy interventions include helping children with disabilities to participate fully in school and social situations, helping people recovering from injury to regain skills, and providing supports for older adults experiencing physical and cognitive changes.

How is OT different?

OT services may include comprehensive evaluations of the client’s home and other environments (e.g., workplace, school), recommendations for adaptive equipment and training in its use, and guidance and education for family members and caregivers. OT practitioners have a holistic perspective, in which the focus is on adapting the environment to fit the person, and the person is an integral part of the therapy team.

OTs are creative problem solvers. They take into consideration the whole person and their physical and psychological states, their environment, social needs, and goals for independent living when developing a unique and personalized treatment plan. For instance, a person that enjoys gardening may have movements and activities associated with the task of gardening worked into their physical rehabilitation plan. Doing this retrains the muscle groups required for the movements – or occupations – of gardening, helping that individual heal and get them back to doing the things they enjoy.

When do you need OT?

OT often helps people recover from a major surgery, adapt to a serious illness or recover from an injury. OT can also help young people with developmental challenges that affect their physical movement, and help older individuals transition into different stages of aging with the goal of helping them maintain independent living.

Fort HealthCare Therapy & Sport Centers have OTs at Fort Memorial Hospital, Fort Atkinson School District schools, in clinic locations in Fort Atkinson, Whitewater, Lake Mills, and at the Fort HealthCare Hyperbarics, Wound & Edema Center in Johnson Creek.

Therapists are available that specialize in ergonomic assessments and job site analysis, return to work therapies, pediatric OT, lymphedema therapy, Certified Hand Therapy, and stroke rehabilitation. Our therapists are available close to where you live so you do not need to travel far outside of Jefferson County to receive care. Many of our therapists also have close working relationships with primary care providers and area schools, so the coordination of you and your family’s care is comprehensive.