What is Occupational Therapy And When Do I Need It?

Two women sit on a couch looking at an iPad together

What Is Occupational Therapy and When Might You Need It?

Occupational therapy is a therapeutic treatment for people of any age living with a disability, illness, injury or chronic pain to help them accomplish necessary everyday tasks. The ultimate goal of this kind of treatment is to maintain or recover a patient’s independence in spite of challenges. Occupational therapists will look at the individual person and the broader situation — their environment and their limitations — and proactively develop practical solutions to improve their patients’ quality of life.

If you’re wondering when is occupational therapy needed, it’s incredibly helpful to treat any injury or impairment that impedes your independence. An occupational therapist will start with a customized evaluation, create an intervention plan, and continue to monitor your progress to ensure the effectiveness of the plan.

Occupational Therapy vs. Physical Therapy

These two therapies are often confused because they do overlap in some of their roles. Both therapies help patients avoid future injury and treat existing injuries. Additionally, both physical and occupational therapy provide guidance to assist a senior in performing daily activities. 

Occupational therapy diverges from physical therapy in that it doesn’t specifically treat biochemical impairment. Occupational therapy treats the whole person in the face of their challenge. Beyond just addressing the impairment, an occupational therapist looks at the lifestyle, goals, and emotions of the patient to make sure they’re as fulfilled and independent as possible.

Benefits of Occupational Therapy

Physical Wellness: An occupational therapist can help patients avoid falls by creating strategies and coping techniques for common precarious situations. Therapists can also help people accomplish everyday tasks without pain and create a safer environment to avoid future injuries.

Emotional Wellness: Shifting focus away from limitations and onto finding solutions can significantly improve a patient’s outlook. The inability to complete tasks that used to be second nature can cause some seniors to become depressed, but empowering them to remain more independent bolsters their mood and attitude, and helps them feel like they have more control.

Cognitive Wellness: When a senior and their family consult an occupational therapist in the early stages of memory loss, they can create a specialized treatment plan together to address issues before they become too problematic. Therapists can help create solutions that enable the patient to continue dressing themselves, adjust the environment to minimize wandering, and teach caregivers how to respond to personality changes. 

When Is Occupational Therapy Needed?

Occupational therapy is wonderfully versatile, so it can treat a number of challenges that seniors may face. You might seek out this kind of treatment if you’ve experienced any of the following incidents or impairments: 

  •     Stroke
  •     Heart attack
  •     Fall
  •     Surgery recovery
  •     Severe depression and anxiety
  •     Memory loss
  •     Arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome

When you’re facing any of these challenges, you will likely benefit from working with a team of professionals, including an occupational therapist. Depending on your condition, you may also enlist a physical therapist, dietitian, speech pathologist, psychologist or social worker, etc. Communities like Rolling Green Village offer the rare opportunity to assemble your team right where you live, so you can begin to heal as quickly as possible. 

If you think you could benefit from occupational therapy in Greenville, SC, and you’d like to know more about the rehabilitative services and life-enhancing therapies at Rolling Green Village, let us know. We’d be happy to answer your questions or even give you a tour.