April is Occupational Therapy Month, and if you’ve ever wondered what occupational therapy is and how it could possibly help your aging loved one, keep reading.

To begin, occupational therapists work with people of all ages to help them live independent and productive lives despite emotional, developmental or social problems.

Occupational therapy shouldn’t be confused with physical therapy, as the two are very different. A physical therapist is a licensed health care professional who works with patients to help reduce their pain and improve mobility. Commonly, a physical therapist will provide a treatment plan that does not use prescription medications or expensive surgery.

An occupational therapist, on the other hand, uses special equipment to help treat disabled, ill or injured patients through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. Essentially, an occupational therapist helps a person regain a level of functionality that allows him or her to live a normal life.

There are myriad conditions that occupational therapy can help treat, including:

  • Arthritis
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Depression
  • Dyspraxia
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Schizophrenia
  • Parkinson’s Disease

Additionally, occupational therapy can help children with disabilities participate in school, help a person who is recovering from an injury regain the skill they lost or a skill that was affected and be of benefit to older patients who are dealing with common problems that are associated with aging.

Let’s say that your loved one is struggling with something that once used to be easy, like getting up from a seated position. An occupational therapist will help the patient learn new techniques to ease the pain and potentially make standing easier.

Occupational therapy offers a holistic approach to recovery, as a therapist will conduct evaluations of the client’s home and other places where they spend the bulk of their time. An occupational therapist will help educate the patient on how to use adaptive equipment to help better his or her situation. Essentially, occupational therapy provides people with efficient and healthy ways to adapt to changes in his or her environment.

At St. Barnabas, we offer our patients access to our occupational therapy program to help them learn how to adapt to new challenges and live life to the fullest.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks to learn more about what to expect from an occupational therapist visit.




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