Watch for signs that occupational therapy is needed


Occupational therapists help patients to remain independent. This might mean teaching the patient to do things one-handed where they might previously have needed two hands. It might mean working with caregivers to help patients get in and out of bed. It might mean teaching patients to drive an automobile using adaptive equipment.

Tia Hughes, associate dean of the College of Rehabilitative Sciences for Occupational Therapy at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences, said it is imperative to look for signs that a loved one may be declining in some area and in need of occupational therapy.

“When things that they used to be able to do easily are becoming a little more challenging,” she said, “that might be the time to ask for an occupational therapy referral from their care provider.”

Occupational therapists can help with fall prevention, medication management, taking care of pets or doing any everyday task that has become difficult due to pain, injury, illness or a disability. They can even make recommendations for assistive equipment or ways to make the home safer.

For those who have suffered a stroke, the occupational therapist might team up with a physical therapist and a speech therapist to help the patient overcome resulting impairments.

Successful treatment will help patients maintain their independence.

“They don’t have to say, ‘I can’t do this anymore,’” said Hughes.