Occupational therapy is often mistaken for other kinds of rehabilitative care, but it is a unique component of any recovery plan. Occupational therapy is the only therapy committed to helping patients recover occupational health or the ability to perform the work-related or leisure activities they need to do (or enjoy doing) in their daily lives. Often, an injury will force individuals to take a break from these activities for some time. An occupational therapist will slowly help restore function so that patients can get back to living their fullest lives. Occupational therapists can also help individuals who are disabled to participate fully in work settings or social situations and provide support for senior citizens who may experience physical and/or cognitive changes. Below are just a few of the many services provided by the best occupational therapists:
1. Tailored Therapy
Occupational therapists practice a “holistic” treatment approach, which means that they focus on adapting their approaches to each individual and his/her specific needs. Since the end goal of occupational therapy is to help patients regain enough function to participate in or perform tasks in daily living, the objectives will differ drastically from patient to patient. The best occupational therapists will take the time in the initial sessions to get to know each patient, their daily routines, and the activities they value most. They will then design specific treatment plans that incorporate tailored movements or activities that mimic the activities the patient will need to perform down the road. In some cases, occupational therapists may even meet patients in their homes or in recreational areas to oversee the patients’ activities in familiar environments (this ensures a smooth transition).
2. Measured Progress
Occupational health is an evidence-based practice, which means that it is founded on scientific studies using measurable outcomes that demonstrate its efficacy. The best occupational therapists will use evidence-based approaches to measure patients’ progress over time—this keeps the practitioner accountable and ensures that the right approaches are being used to foster healing and improvements. One of the most effective ways to collect objective data is by performing routine medical screenings. These screenings will often require therapists to use specific tools, such as vision screeners, to keep track of patients’ progress. These tools are particularly helpful for older patients suffering from macular degeneration or other age-related eye conditions. Occupational therapists will want to help these patients monitor degradation (or potential improvements) over time.
3. Provided Encouragement
Rehabilitative care is a long road, and improvements may not occur as quickly as patients would like. The best occupational therapists will maintain their commitment to evidence-based practice (using objective metrics to measure progress) while also maintaining a can-do and positive attitude. Ensuring that patients don’t become discouraged as they are healing is a crucial part of any holistic care plan. Some studies show that patients recovering from injuries who maintain a positive outlook while they are healing are able to recover faster and are less prone to re-injury in the long-run.
Finding Occupational Therapists
The best occupational therapists are the ones that are cheering you on every step of the way with a therapy that’s tailored to your needs and has effective, measurable practices in play. Finding the therapist that provides this care that’s catered to you is exactly what you deserve.