Saint Vincent Hospital Celebrates Occupational Therapy Month What is OT and How Can it Help?

Worcester, Mass. – Saint Vincent Hospital celebrates Occupational Therapy Month in April. The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) provides information about occupational therapy (OT) and the roles that occupational therapists play in our daily lives.

What is Occupational Therapy?

Life is made up of occupations – meaningful everyday activities. These occupations can include many roles, such as being a parent, a friend, a spouse, a tennis player, an artist, a cook, or a musician. We generally don’t think about our daily occupations until we have trouble doing them. Everyone has occupations – from the toddler whose occupations are play and learning to develop important skills, to the older adult whose occupations are engaging with family and friends and managing their home. If recovering from an accident or injury, one’s valued occupation may be disrupted. Occupational therapy incorporates your valued occupations into the rehabilitation process.

Why Would I Need Occupational Therapy?

An accident, injury, disease, or condition can make it difficult to participate in daily activities. A wrist injury means that getting dressed in the morning is painful. Arthritis makes driving challenging. Autism may hinder a child from interacting effectively with classmates. A traumatic brain injury keeps a wounded warrior out of active duty because of difficulties with memory and organizational skills.

Occupational therapy allows people across their lifespan to do the activities they want and need to do. An occupational therapist will evaluate your situation, and input from the patient and their family or care provider, develop individualized goals that allow you to resume or pursue your valued occupations. Goals are created with a therapist, to help improve or maintain the ability to perform daily activities to reach goals and getting back to life activities. Occupational therapy practitioners can help develop and implement programs that help promote healthy behaviors. Or address specific issues such as older driving, community transitions for returning soldiers, homelessness, troubled youth, mental health, and addiction.

Who are Occupational Therapy Practitioners?

Occupational therapy practitioners are either occupational therapists or occupational therapy assistants. They are skilled health care professionals who use research and scientific evidence to ensure their interventions are effective. With strong knowledge of a person’s psychological, physical, emotional and social makeup, occupational therapy practitioners can evaluate how your condition (or risk for one) is affecting your body and mind, using a holistic perspective.

Occupational Therapy with Saint Vincent Hospital

Our Occupational Therapists (OTs) take a holistic approach to help patients gain and maintain their functional independence. In our outpatient department we have highly skilled OTs who are certified hand therapists to treat patients after hand surgeries, injuries or other conditions. They utilize a variety of tools to treat patients and fabricate custom-made splints for patients on site. This year we have added a new outpatient OT to work alongside our Physical Therapists and Speech Therapist to treat patients with neurological impairments.

On the inpatient units, our Occupational Therapists are multifaceted as well. They work with a wide variety of patients on the units, from surgical patients who need help learning to dress themselves with mobility restrictions, to patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) learning to pace their movements in order to perform their morning routine without fatigue. Our OTs also work to prevent delirium in the elderly population by making sure all of the measures are in place to keep them safe. You can also find our OTs on our inpatient psychiatric unit where they run groups for patients to learn different strategies as they near discharge. Finally, we have OTs working in the level IIB nursery to address feeding and sensory needs that are unique to the newborn population.

For more information about Occupational Therapy Services at Saint Vincent Hospital, please visit our website here.