Occupational Therapy

From infancy to older age, we rely on gross/fine motor skills to conduct our activities of daily living (ADLs). Though babies often learn these skills as they grow, developmental delays, congenital defects, injuries or other illnesses may make it difficult to grow and learn appropriately. 

Similarly, when an adult experiences a physical injury, dysfunction or other health condition that limits their independence with ADLs, they may need to relearn those performance skills again to regain or maintain as much independence in their daily occupations. 

Occupational therapy uses assessments to implement intervention plans to develop, learn or promote meaningful movements and activities that benefit both children and adults.

The Role of Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy enhances a person’s ability to perform everyday tasks and improve daily life. With children, occupational therapy helps them to excel in milestone development, school work such as handwriting, ADLs such as feeding and dressing. Occupational therapy encourages play skills with children of the same age group to boost their confidence and build social skills.

The average adult understands and performs gross/fine motor skills and daily living occupations without issue. However, conditions such as stroke or physical injury may impact performance of daily routines. Such as an elbow fracture. A patient may not be able to move their upper extremity to pull their pants on as before or use both upper extremities to cut their food when eating as before the injury. Therefore, performance skills lost as a result of a medical condition or injury, need to be relearned again. Adults undergoing occupational therapy treatment may experience relearning basic daily living activities like:

What Does An Occupational Therapist Help With?

Occupational therapy is an excellent treatment option for infants, children, and adults. A therapist specializing in this field works to identify the deficits a patient is experiencing as well as the severity to formulate a treatment plan to get you back to normal life. Occupational therapists help with:

The most basic areas of daily living (ADLs) include feeding, dressing, personal hygiene, toileting, and ambulating without assistance. For a patient experiencing a temporary illness or injury that is expected to fully heal with proper treatment, occupational therapists will perform an overall assessment to evaluate areas of weakness vs strengths to determine what needs to be worked on. The main goal for ADLs in a patient with an acute condition is for the patient to return to the maximum level of independence without assistance. A patient with a long-term or permanent disability may benefit from occupational therapy services as this allows them to better understand new techniques for safely accomplishing a task like eating, walking, or even driving. Occupational therapy also allows the patient and any caregivers to learn how to navigate assistive equipment and technology that is available to help a patient accomplish ADLs within their new normal.

Fine motor skills

Fine motor skills refer to coordination, dexterity, and precision of the hands and the ability to manipulate smaller objects like a pencil or the buttons on a shirt, pinch strength, and grip strength. Without adequate grip strength, a child cannot learn to eat with the appropriate utensils. To mention a few, occupational therapists can focus on:

Developmental skills

Have you been told your baby is not meeting its milestones at an appropriate age? Developmental skills and milestones begin as early as 2 to 3 months of age. Developmental skills incorporate fine motor skills, gross motor skills, and self-care techniques and may include:

Hand therapy

Occupational therapy helps to improve a patient’s range of motion and mobility when treating an injury that has affected the hand, wrist, or other areas of an upper extremity.  Hand therapy focuses on managing pain, mobilizing a joint, treating edema and lymphedema, and preventing a future injury.

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Approximately 1 out of 100 children in the United States are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) each year. Autistic children experience difficulties in navigating daily living, whether it be through a developmental delay, inappropriate fine motor skills, or sensory issues. Occupational therapy helps the child to become more independent and confident in learning basic life skills through play therapy, understanding different learning strategies and providing a controlled environment to work through sensory issues.

Takeaway

ProFizix Physical Therapy and Wellness Center was founded by board-certified physical therapist Dr. Nazanin Amini. After an unexpected injury requiring extensive treatment and therapy, she became passionate about providing therapeutic care to those truly in need to help them achieve a normal life.