OT focuses on activities for self-sufficiency

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David DiFilippo

Home Care by David DiFilippo

Q: My 78-year old father recently suffered a stroke. He is about ready to leave the hospital and the discharge planner mentioned that he would need occupational therapy (OT) at home. What exactly is occupational therapy? ~ Carol P., North Providence

A: Occupational therapy is an important part of recovery and rehabilitation for many diagnoses. Occupational therapists help people maximize their independence with an emphasis on useful or functional activities involving fine motor skills. Where physical therapy generally concentrates on increasing range of motion and building muscle, occupational therapy works on smaller movements such as buttoning a shirt, brushing one’s teeth or measuring cooking ingredients — things people need to do every day to be self-sufficient. OT involves relearning and adapting everyday activities and improving the skills necessary to enable people to live as independently as possible.

Other than physical limitations, your father may experience a range of difficulties that will make it hard for him to do all the things he likes to do. Changes in memory or attention, problems with swallowing or vision and emotional issues such as depression or anxiety can hamper the recovery process. An occupational therapist will work your dad to build skills and find ways of overcoming those types of difficulties.

On the first visit, an occupational therapist will make an assessment of your dad’s physical needs and conduct a home safety evaluation. He will be observed doing everyday tasks such as washing or dressing, or making a hot drink in the kitchen. Based on that visit, the therapist, in coordination with the entire home health team, will create a treatment plan with manageable goals for improvement, which will be reviewed by his doctor.

Throughout your father’s rehabilitation, his progress will be measured and treatment goals will be adjusted. For instance, an immediate goal may be for him to walk to the front door with a longer range goal to walk to the mailbox. Overall the occupational therapist and his or her team members should teach your father and your family how to best look after his health and understand how his difficulties may affect him now and in the future. Ultimately, the aim is to help your father live as closely as possible to how he lived before his stroke.

David DiFilippo is the owner of Concord Home Health Services. Contact him at david@concordhomecare.com and submit questions to kpark@trmcomm.com

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  1. […] Q: My 78-year old father recently suffered a stroke. He is about ready to leave the hospital and the discharge planner mentioned that he would need occupational therapy (OT) at home. What exactly is occupational therapy?  More… […]

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