A person who is perfectly healthy does not know the importance of having the ability to carry out all the small daily chores that seem almost meaningless in our routines.
An occupational therapy assistant would tell you that the act of getting out of bed in the morning, brushing your teeth, taking a bath, and getting dressed for the office are all very important tasks that we perform each day.
But there are people who are simply unable to do them owing to a serious illness or an injury such as brain damage from a stroke. They are faced with the requirement of having to re-learn all the activities they used to do normally in their daily lives before the accident/injury/illness.
A person who is in the process of recovering from brain damage caused due to any reason is one of those persons who loses mobility and simple skills due to some previous ailment to injury.
In all these situations, occupational therapy constitutes an important part of the person’s overall recovery program.
The objective of the occupational therapist is to assist these people in regaining these skills so that they are able to spend perfectly normal lives again.
The work of the therapist depends on the current condition of each patient, and the level of recovery he/she is going through at any point in time.
The Role of the Occupational therapist
As discussed above, the role of the occupational therapist is to assist in the overall recovery of a person so that he/she is able to spend an independent and normal life.
Some of the important roles of the occupational therapist are stated below
- Letting the patient know how the recovery process will be carried out, and what he/she will be able to accomplish once the therapy is over.
- Helping the patients re-learn the process of carrying out daily activities like dressing, preparing food, taking care of themselves, and especially, taking medicines every day.
- Teach daily simple movements like sitting down, standing up, brushing the teeth, getting dressed, and getting out of bed each morning.
- Provide assistance in walking, eating, and taking care of patients’ personal hygiene.
- Teaching to be careful in movements so that another injury can be prevented
A common misunderstanding compels people to believe that occupational therapy and physical therapies are one and the same thing.
This belief is wrong because significant differences exist between the two phenomena.
Occupational therapy allows a person to carry out his/her daily routines in order to make them independent in their lives. The focus is on routine adaptation without outside help. It does not treat or take care of any direct injury to the patient.
On the other hand, physical therapy focuses on the treatment of a direct injury. The objective of this treatment, in most cases, is to assist the patient in regaining movement.
One should expect different things from an occupational therapist depending on where it is being carried out.
What to expect from an occupational therapist
If the patient is hospitalized for an extended period of time in a medical care center or a rehabilitation center, the main focus of the therapist will be to assist in the overall recovery process.
An occupational therapist works in conjunction with a medical practitioner and other therapists so that all of them work towards a common recovery goal for the patient. For this purpose, the occupational therapist will be working with the speech therapist and the physical therapist.
If the patient is in-home care, the therapist provides assistance to the patient in regaining his abilities to perform routine tasks on a daily basis. These abilities include moving inside the house, making use of simple household items, preparing food and cleaning up after the meal.
The therapist also looks around the house in order to take note of any areas within the premises that would pose a threat of another injury to the patient. The therapist is also responsible for administering daily medication to the patient.
What benefits can be achieved through the occupational therapy procedure largely depend on the setting in which the patient finds himself/herself
There are some occupational therapists who have been further trained for providing highly targeted therapies to all the patients who have, unfortunately, suffered an amputation. There are also some patients who have suffered permanent damage to their brains or motor cells owing to a heart stroke.
The additional training undertaken by an occupational therapist allows him/her to offer focused treatments to all such patients.
The Final Word
There are occupational therapists who would provide assistance to patients in all kinds of settings whether they are inside hospitals or have been shifted to their homes.
These therapists help in incorporating long-term constructive changes in the lives of all their patients so that they are able to move towards normalcy.
The occupational therapist not only assists in the overall recovery plan but also provides compassion and motivation to the patient for the purpose of bringing him/her back towards life. This is especially very beneficial for those people who lose their will to live after having been through a traumatic experience.
Finally, the job of the occupational therapist is not less important than a surgeon or a certified doctor. In fact, an occupational therapist needs to acquire the required certification and experience before practice. Moreover, he has to work with the patients long after the surgeons and doctors are done with them.