Occupational Therapy

What is Occupational Therapy?

At our Kin Lab in-services, we have had the opportunity to learn more about the practice of Occupational Therapy in our guest in-service presented by Julia Dao. Julia is a practicing occupational therapist and is the Director of the Pediatric Department at her company and manages her own caseload of patients, focusing on community services. She kindly has presented some knowledge of what an occupational therapist is and why having one can be important in an individual’s rehabilitation journey. Occupational therapists work with other practitioners such as the Kinesiologists at Kin lab to create a multidisciplinary approach and collaboration to benefit a patient’s recovery outlook and empower them to do so.

What do Occupational Therapists do?

There are two areas that occupational therapists practice, specifically the community or public health sector. Occupational therapists that provide their services in the public health sector mainly work in hospital settings providing acute care to patients in the hospital. The focus on treatment would be on helping acute care patients regain function post-surgery, providing equipment such as custom splints or braces to improve functionality or activities of daily living at home. On the other hand, community occupational therapists work on the outpatient and working with patients in their homes or during activities of daily living (ADL). In this blog post, we will mainly be focusing on what Julia does and how a community occupational therapist practices, and how it may be beneficial for a patient. So what does an occupational therapist do? They can be considered as a healthcare professional who is a jack of all trades where they have a holistic and multi-faceted skillset to provide a patient with physical, emotional, and social care. An example of a physical condition that a patient could see an occupational therapist would be a sacroiliac (SI) joint fracture. Physical care could include ensuring that the patient is safe at home and has necessary equipment such as bath rails, walkers, or crutches to help improve functionality and safety at home and during activities of daily living (ADL). However, in some chronic pain cases, many underlying issues for pain could be due to anxiety and depression which may catastrophize pain for a patient and increase their perceived pain. Occupational therapists are able to help patients in this aspect by providing education and resources to help a patient manage their anxiety and depression. During assessments, careful attention is noted to how a patient may view their pain and symptoms and is an indicator of mental health care.

Functionality

A major theme in how an occupational therapist treats is functionality. Goals of treatment and therapy revolve around function and being able to help patients perform tasks/activities that they want to continue. An excellent example would be the task of grocery shopping. It may seem like a simple task to many, but when broken down, there are many components of a grocery trip that an occupational therapist has to take into consideration for patients. These components can include their physical ability and body mechanics in how they pick up or carry their groceries and gait mechanics when walking around the grocery store. An example of other underlying mental aspects that can be taken into consideration as well as anxiety or fear driving or commuting to the store and even sensitivity to noise/lights in the grocery stores. There are many factors and components that an occupational therapist can address during ADL, as I have only touched it on a surface level in this example! Occupational therapists assist to provide an environment to support patients in adhering to other beneficial treatments such as physiotherapy or kinesiology. In collaboration with other practitioners, occupational therapists contribute towards a multidisciplinary approach in a patient’s rehabilitative journey. The main takeaway is if you are not sure if you would be someone who could benefit from occupational therapy, is that if you find yourself saying “I can’t do this” then that would be an indicator for occupational therapy!

We’d like to thank Julia Dao for coming in to present on this in-service and providing insight into her practice and how it can be beneficial when combined with other treatments such as Kinesiology! If you are an individual who is interested in an Occupational therapist, you can reach out to Julia at julia.dao@otxrehab.com

Summary written by Calvin Vu 

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