Need help regaining strength or lost physical skills? Choose occupational therapy

5/2/2014


ARH Occupational Therapist Melanie Harris assists a patient with a peg board activity.
If you need to regain strength or relearn skills after an injury, illness or surgery, choosing occupational therapy can help you regain your normal functioning and get you on the road to recovery.

Occupational therapy focuses on enabling you to perform activities of daily living that have become difficult due to disease or injury such as bathing, dressing, going to the bathroom, using the telephone, preparing meals, driving, writing and typing.

Occupational therapists often use adaptive methods to help you regain lost skills. For example, if you experience difficulty eating with utensils, you may practice activities that develop fine motor skills such as inserting pegs on a peg board or be instructed on how to use adaptive equipment to compensate for lost skills such as weighted utensils to reduce tremors.

Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH) has highly skilled, compassionate occupational therapists that make your recovery their primary focus. Dedicated to your care, the occupational therapist will carefully evaluate and determine the path needed to direct you on your personal track to recovery.

“Patients are evaluated by their specific needs and abilities,” shares Violet Sylvia, ARH System Director for Rehabilitation Services. “Once their needs and abilities are determined, an occupational therapist creates a customized treatment plan that will help the patient regain strength and improve daily living and work skills.”

Sylvia explains that occupational therapists work with patients of all ages and with all types of impairments, including hand or head injuries, joint disease, cognitive impairments and mental disabilities or impairments. Occupational therapy is for adults and children. Children require important skills for playing and learning, and occupational therapists can evaluate their playing skills, school performance and daily activities and compare them with what is developmentally appropriate for their age. Occupational therapists can help children improve their cognitive, physical, sensory, and motor skills, which will enhance their self-esteem and sense of accomplishment as well as improve school performance and social skills.

Occupational therapy services also can include evaluations of the patient’s home and other environments (e.g., workplace, school), recommendations for safety, adaptive equipment and training in its use and guidance and education for family members and caregivers.

According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, some of the conditions that benefit from occupational therapy include:

• Work-related injuries including lower back problems or repetitive stress injuries.
• Limitations following a stroke or heart attack.
• Arthritis, multiple sclerosis or other serious chronic conditions.
• Birth injuries, learning problems or developmental disabilities.
• Mental health or behavioral problems including Alzheimer's, schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress.
• Problems with substance use or eating disorders.
• Burns, spinal cord injuries or amputations.
• Broken bones or other injuries from falls, sports injuries or accidents.
• Vision or cognitive problems that threaten the ability to drive.

If you or a loved one requires assistance in regaining normal function after an injury or illness, talk to your healthcare provider about a referral to an occupational therapist. Your local ARH hospital has experienced occupational therapists who will carefully evaluate and determine the path needed to direct you on your personal track to recovery.

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