Outpatient treatment has always been physical therapy’s domain. However, in recent years, occupational therapy has slowly incorporated itself as a vital asset to every outpatient physical therapy office. While physical therapy focuses on correcting muscle imbalances and eliminating compensatory movement strategies to promote correct healing and function, occupational therapy has created its own niche in helping people achieve their highest level of independence and participation in daily activities through client centered exercises and therapeutic activities. In an outpatient setting, occupational therapists are crucial in helping patients get back to doing things the way they were before they sustained an injury. Occupational therapists can help patients assess what parts of a task will be most difficult to complete through activity breakdown and task analysis, then practice specific movements to improve the patient’s ability to participate in the desired activity. Everything about occupational therapy is client centered and treatment is always tailored to the patient’s diagnosis, activity preference, habits and routines as well as personal beliefs. Though occupational therapy is broad enough to treat nearly every diagnosis, occupational therapists have discovered specific areas in outpatient therapy that require an occupational therapist’s touch. These areas include specialized hand, elbow and shoulder therapy and rehabilitation, vision and oculomotor (eye movement) training, improving fine motor coordination and dexterity, lymphedema management, return to driving, urinary/incontinence training, improving sexual performance/satisfaction and treating neurologic and mental disorders such as dementia, CVA (stroke), spinal cord injury, Parkinson’s disease and traumatic brain injury. Outpatient occupational therapists are also extremely skilled in aspects of return-to-work training such as activity modification, work station evaluation and ergonomics, as well as posture retraining for improved productivity and comfort at work. Occupational therapists are also experts on home modifications and are skilled at suggesting adaptive and safety equipment to improve safety and mobility in the home. However, the list really does go on and on.
If you are having trouble getting back into the swing of things after a life changing event or even if you’d like to improve your physical or social skills through tailored activity and specialized training come on in and speak with your occupational therapists. If you are having a problem in your life, odds are occupational therapy can help!