Two licensed occupational therapists at OCH bring complete OT care to the area. Senior OT Jamie Yates expains:
"Occupational therapy can mean a shorter hospital stay and an easier life at home and/or work following a physical injury or illness," Yates said. "I'm excited to be working with OCH to make these services available here."
The occupational therapist said while physical therapy aids patients in regaining walking or other ambulatory skills, occupational therapy helps them regain specific functions such as dressing, cooking, making a bed and other fine motor skills that will allow them to return to a semblance of normal life at home or work.
"Occupational therapy provides treatment programs based on purposeful activity that requires the physical and mental involvement of the patient," Yates said. "We strive to help people return to their previous levels of function following stroke, orthopedic problems, neuro-muscular problems, arthritis and general weaknesses by teaching them new skills or how to adapt their environment."
The therapist explained that occupational therapy provides equipment that helps people with activities of daily living (ADL). "Getting a person back to their previous way of life doesn't necessarily mean he can do the same things the same way as before-- we teach people how to do the same things, but we provide devices that can help people bathe, reach, put on socks or prepare a meal, for instance," he said, noting such equipment includes items like long-handled bath brushes, elastic shoe laces, knob adapters for lamp switches and cutting boards with prongs to hold objects. "We also teach proper body alignment that provides joint protection and energy conservation."
Yates said that although she provides occupational therapy for people of all ages, she is very interested in working with children who have developmental disabilities. "I enjoy working to promote new skills in children with developmental delay and helping to adapt the environment for kids with cerebral palsy or other problems," the therapist said, explaining that occupational therapy can help a child with Down's Syndrome or cerebral palsy by utilizing toys, blocks, pegs and balls to help develop fine motor skills, sensory motor processing, concentration and coordination.
According to Yates, occupational therapy, like all therapy, begins with evaluation and planning; the patient's needs and abilities must be assessed through interviews, referral information, history and test results. "During the treatment stage, the patient's goal may include attaining greater mobility, joint flexibility and muscle strength, adjusting socially and emotionally (to a life change such as loss of limb, etc.), learning to use any prosthetic devices, and learning self-care skills, job skills, leisure and group activities," she said. "The patient's progress and abilities are frequently assessed and the program of treatment re-evaluated, as changes in the therapy plan may be necessary to help attain his goals." Yates added that before returning home and to daily activities, the patient may also need to complete a survey of his or her home environment, as some adjustments may be recommended.
Occupational therapy teaches:
- Proper body alignment that provides joint protection and energy conservation
- Children with Down's Syndrome or cerebral palsy better sensory processing, concentration and coordination by utilizing toys, blocks, pegs and balls
- New skills to help patients adapt to their environment and regain normal levels of functioning following: stroke, orthopedic problems, neuro-muscular problems, arthritis and general weakness