What Can Occupational Therapy Do For You?

What Can Occupational Therapy Do For You?

My goal for you is to be as functionally
independent as possible with what you love to do in life.
It starts with empathy. You have to at least for a moment just
be able to understand what they’re going through. I am a passionate tennis player.
I was playing in a social, and as I served the ball, I ended up with a
tingling sensation on my index finger. So I had the MRI done, and it was determined
I had a ganglion cyst that required removal by surgery. And he said, there is
a possibility that you may not have use of your hand to play tennis
again. But I said, oh no, I’m determined. I’ll do whatever I have to do to get the
feeling back in my hand so I can brush my teeth, comb my hair, wash my hair, to
get myself back on the tennis court. Occupational therapists in general are
essentially creative problem-solvers. It’s helping somebody not only return to
something they love but be able to do that themselves.
I don’t just care about your range of motion today, your strength. I care
about how you’re going to use your hand for the rest your life. We look at the whole
person. We look at the physical, we look at the emotional, we look at the
environmental–we have to really take in everything about that person and what’s
important to them, and then problem solve, how are we going to take care of
that issue? It can start in the neonatal intensive care unit and go all the way
up through the entire lifespan. Occupational therapists are especially
trained to solve problems to help people’s lives be better. We have a
stronger skill set in that than any other profession. I’d like to go back to doing my
photography. I need to be able to lift the camera to my eye, so that’s what I’m
working on. It’s very important for me to be independent, and I think the
occupational therapy has made a great, great difference. My daughter is profoundly deaf, so she
has cochlear implants which help with the hearing, and she also has an autism
diagnosis, so she has multiple sensory issues. For a child, any child, one of
their occupations is play. That’s just naturally what they do. Play
is something that you can’t always teach. So we incorporate play into
function. I like how you’re drinking your juice, Julie. Taking turns, which is
a huge play skill and peer interaction– figuring out how both sides of my body
work together and how that is all integrated into our brain neurologically.
The sensory integration is just what my daughter needs to facilitate all her
motor skills, her balance, her vestibular system, and it just made a dramatic
difference. The results are a child finding themselves. Not catering to what is
inhibiting them but to what is stengthening them. You ready? 1, 2, pull up. I see
Scott engaged more, I see him lift his head up, I see him attend to things. Give me one more hit with the soccer ball. Thank you, that’s awesome. All right, let’s
try something else. For me, OT is the ultimate problem-solving profession,
because every day I have a chance to engage with somebody like Scott and I’m
going to figure out how to break through. I can use things that are really
familiar to him. He’s a race car driver, so I can use the steering wheel. If it’s
something that he knows about, he’s going to be like, oh yeah, that’s mine, I know what that is.
Every idea that she’s had I’ve never even thought of. Just like we were
practicing over on the mat, we’re going to practice on keeping your head up. We’re
going to practice sitting up on your own. You got it? Nice. He didn’t move, he
wouldn’t do anything, and we’ve only been here three weeks and I would have never
thought we would have made it this far. It’s going great, he’s doing good. You got
it. COPD, the major symptom besides not being
able to breathe, is fatigue. Every step you take, your lungs are working harder.
So I knew that it was just a very short matter of time that I’d be in an
assisted living facility. And I just–I couldn’t bear that. I have a cozy little
apartment. I’ve made it a home and I want to stay here. In order to, you know,
maintain her independence and be able to live where she wants to live, we spent a
lot of time talking about, what do you value and how do you see your life
changing? Oh, this looks so comfortable! We can adjust the height. Okay. And I did
put some non-slip rubber grips on the bottom. As an occupational therapist
doing home modifications in the community, I feel it’s very important to
develop that rapport with people and develop that trust so that together we
can come up with those solutions and make a difference. What Carly has done
using the tools of occupational therapy to ensure that I don’t get exhausted, has
improved my quality of life. And when that happens, you’re a happier person. Dennis was getting ready to move out of
a nursing home, and was bored in his room, and he would color lots of pages
in his coloring books, and just wanted to be able to go out and do things on his own.
So we worked a lot on social skills in the natural setting, ordering what he wants,
managing the money, and not having people do so much for him.
I’m learning about money a little bit. How to count the money and everything. I think it’s
really great seeing them interact with people in the community and not focusing
on mental illness, but focusing on enjoying myself around other people that
are doing something similar to me. And it feels really good that OT has that
ability to help people really realize that potential for themselves. My future is maybe living a long life if I could, and down the line maybe get in the
community, and paying bills, and getting my apartment, and setting goals and
stuff like that. What did you watch today? I was in Atlanta, and I had got drunk. And I
was laying on the sidewalk and somebody took a picture of me. And that was the first
time I really looked at myself and said, I need the help. Because when I
looked at the picture, I could take me out of the picture and see the chalk line. I came in and it gave me a chance to get
myself together. To have a foundation in a program that I never tried before in my life. It reeducated me, and helping me learn
to function, was the best thing about OT for me. When I get to put a room
together knowing that a new resident coming in, I know I’m giving him the same
opportunity that was given to me when I came here. My hopes and dreams is to be
happy. That I’m part of society. That I’m contributing. I have a chronic illness that put me in a deep
depression, so that brought me to a whole new understanding of life. You ever make cookies
before, or you started doing it when you came here? I start making them when I
came here. Yeah. What makes OT a little bit different? What’s something that you like?
You give us the opportunity to say how we feel, what we feel. To go out, go to meetings. You know, cook in the kitchen. I love saying that, cook in the kitchen. What’s always
been the most important is seeing them progress, and know the things that we’ve
done here are helping them get their lives back. I’m proud that I could say
this is home. The evidence is really strong now from the scientists in neural
plasticity that using real-life situations will give better changes on a
neurological level. You’ll see more improvement when we use occupation in
our treatment. With different therapy it’s helping
retrain my brain to send the correct signals. If I do it enough, my brain should
kick in and I should be able to do it on my own.
Lisa’s arm is supported in a mobile arm support. We have some functional
electrical stimulation, and then I’m triggering the stem so it triggers once
she grasps, and then as soon as she makes her way across her body and over here
into the bag, I let go of the trigger and Lisa focuses on opening and
extending her fingers. Yes, very good. I’m trying to tap into everything Lisa enjoys
doing. This is something that’s important to Lisa. She enjoys make-up. I came
here to get more intense therapy and using my hand, I know it’s not going to be
perfect, but little by little. I joined the Marine Corps with the
infantry, actually on the front lines doing patrols, doing that, that’s what I
did. We were on our last patrol in Afghanistan, and day one of that patrol
is when I stepped on the IED. It blew up. The charge was right underneath my left
and right leg, how they were spread open, so it split me in half. And it was 28
minutes from blast to me getting put on the medevac and put into a medical coma,
which is really quick considering how far out we were from the medevac site. So
when I got to Walter Reed for a week or two or more, I was doing three surgeries
a week. And the OTs would come into my room and we’d do ADLs–stuff that I was
gonna use all the time. So I was very eager to learn it. OT got me to the point
where I could be independent, drive myself, be in my own wheelchair, get up
and down the hills, and use prosthetic legs. It was full speed ahead.
The quicker you could start getting all this stuff and become more
independent, you just feel like yourself again. Not only was the OT helping him
regaining his independence, that also helps me find my balance of being a wife
and a mom. So as they’re helping him, it’s also helping our entire family. Pretty
amazing stuff that the OTs can do. Patrick and I went for a walk on a
beautiful spring day. We had very little to worry about, and we had our whole life in
front of us. And now we are both lying in ICU beds. And could it be true that
we’re both amputees? To our occupational therapists: You walked in our rooms and
gave us our first shower, after five weeks of bed baths. You instantly made us
fall in love with you and your profession. Over the course of these last
three years, you have equipped us with a myriad of skills and tools that helped
us reclaim our lives. Thank you for dedicating much of your
lives to this unique profession of occupational therapy. Where science,
creativity, and compassion collide. you

11 Replies to “What Can Occupational Therapy Do For You?”

  1. This is terrific! I cant wait to share with my OTA students! I want them to feel and see the passion we as OT practitioners pass on to our clients through the power of occupation!

  2. There’s so much to learn in this field and I’m excited! ? I’m starting my OT school journey and documenting the experience and adventures. Join me!

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *