April is Occupational Therapy Awareness Month, which for many is a time of not only education but a great help in their daily lives. The term ‘occupational’ makes many people think of their jobs, their occupations, but in the world of medicine, this word has a very different meaning. While some occupational therapy is relevant to cases of workplace injuries, it has many valuable techniques that can be used for much more than professional recovery.
What is Occupational Therapy?
In the medical world, “occupational” doesn’t refer to someone’s job. Instead, it refers to practical skills and abilities that we all go through everyday. Things like being able to lift objects, reach over your head, walk, engage in social situations, and even focus on important tasks. All of these practical tasks and problems some patients might have with them are covered under occupational medicine and occupational therapy.
Occupational therapy is most often needed for patients who are…
- Recovering from severe physical injuries like broken bones
- Recovering from severe infections that may have left them on bedrest or inhibited their body’s functions
- Recovering from a surgery
- Managing long-term physical disabilities
- Managing disabilities that inhibit social interactions
- Treating cognitive impairments, like memory disorders or severe head trauma
With such a wide array of what is considered occupational medicine, it is easy to see why occupational therapy is so valuable to patients of all ages. From newborn infants to the elderly, occupational therapy can be incredibly valuable to a healthy life. To cover these different needs, occupational therapy is often divided into specialties, with the most common being:
- Orthopedic Therapy: the kind of occupational therapy which is specialized to recover from injuries or managing physical disabilities. People who use wheelchairs, crutches, and other mobility aids often utilize orthopedic techniques in their occupational therapy.
- Geriatric Therapy: this is a specialized kind of care that works for senior citizens. It is a combination of physical and mental therapy techniques to help elderly patients maintain independence and keep up their everyday skills. It can help with things like memory, cooking, dressing, bathing, social interactions, and other aspects of home management, including how to prevent and recover from hazardous falls.
- Pediatric Therapy: similar to geriatric methods, the ones specialized for children are made to assist babies and kids to thrive in social, physical, and even educational situations. It focuses on cognitive and adaptive skills, teaching kids with disabilities and disorders how to not only keep doing the tasks they need to do but how to develop their own special skills as they grow. Children who are recovering from severe injuries also tend to use pediatric therapy techniques.
- Neurological Therapy: for patients who have suffered a stroke or are living with neurological disorders like multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s Disease, special kinds of occupational therapy are necessary. The same physical techniques used in orthopedic methods won’t be effective, so neurological occupational therapy was developed to help patients with specific physical conditions originating from conditions in the brain.
- Psychiatric Therapy: this kind of occupational therapy is specifically for patients who are suffering from severe mental illnesses or are recovering from severe traumas. Stress management, interpersonal development, and group therapy are some examples of psychiatric techniques that can help patients regain their connections to everyday life during difficult periods of mental health.
- Specialty Therapies: in addition to the different schools of occupational therapy, there are even more specialties. Some patients might need help specifically with hands, vision, cardio-vascular, foot, or even driving therapy. All of these and more are specialized therapies that give patients the care they need.
Who Needs Occupational Therapy?
With so many different kinds of occupational therapy, some families might be wondering if someone they love could benefit from it. Depending on the kind of therapy you are looking for, there will be different criteria for qualifications, but there are some questions you can ask yourself to help you figure out if occupational therapy might be right for you or someone in your life.
Have you or someone close to you recently had a severe physical injury that they struggle to recover from?
Is an elderly person in your family beginning to lose their ability to take care of themselves?
Are you or someone you love having difficulty adjusting to daily routines because of possible mental illness or recent trauma?
Have you or someone you love recently suffered a heart attack or stroke?
If some of these situations are applicable to you and your family, then you should talk to your doctor about occupational therapy. While not everyone needs occupational therapy, it is always a good idea to talk about it with your loved ones. Communicating your concerns and needs with members of your family will help everyone to feel prepared and supported if therapy is needed.
The Colony ER Hospital sees patients every day, some of who speak with our own staff after an injury or illness and go on to take part in occupational therapy programs. Our team of highly trained physicians and nurses are here to help patients of all ages with all of their medical emergencies, and as a part of our dedication to concierge-level care, we can help those in need find the right therapy program.
Nutex Health, Inc supports you and your family’s health. You can depend on The Colony Emergency Room Hospital or any one of our concierge-level, freestanding emergency facilities to deliver the emergency care you deserve, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.