What is Occupational Therapy?
Transcription of Video
Hello! I’m Lyndsey Boyer and I have been an occupational therapist for 16 years. OT is generally not well understood but can be utilized across one’s entire lifespan. From assisting with newborns who have trouble with feeding, in the schools to address attention, coordination, and seating options for students, in adult rehab following a surgery or illness, and in the senior community to promote safety and independence in daily tasks as one age. Occupational therapy’s core focus is how to find a way for our clients to be independent in their occupations. Not to be confused with occupation as one’s profession, but the things you want to do, need to do, and are expected to do in your daily life. These tasks can look similar in the way one does their morning routine or can be very different depending on the individual’s roles. For instance, a senior living in an independent apartment would have different roles than a student who has low muscle tone and difficulty sitting up in a regular chair in a classroom all day.
Seniors have been the population I’ve worked with throughout my whole career. Generally, I have worked with individuals who have been hospitalized for falls, fractures, joint replacements, stokes and overall decline in strength and ability to consistently care for themselves. In the hospital and rehab stay, the basic functions are heavily addressed. Can the client be mobile, get dressed, complete all aspects of toileting and bathing, have adequate strength and balance to make meals, and complete housekeeping tasks, or be able to properly follow a medication routine? In the home health setting, we have to opportunity to address these tasks in their home as well as work on driving safety, caregiver training, home modification (grab bars, shower chairs, etc), and activities that clients enjoy doing. This past year and a half have also shown the importance of OT’s role in engaging seniors in purposeful and enjoyable tasks that they have been unable to do due to the isolation during the pandemic. OT has the unique opportunity to address one’s quality of life and how that affects daily function.
I have experience working with clients with varying levels of dementia and it is one of my favorite populations to work with. OT focus when working with clients with dementia is assessing their level of cognitive functioning which is impaired by dementia, caregiver training, compensatory strategies, facilitating appropriate communication style based on the client’s stage of dementia, and support for the caregivers. Since dementia is a disease that progresses differently for everyone, OT’s role is vital in educating and assisting in how to care for the client with dementia and supporting their caregivers to maintain optimal quality of life and care as they go through the stages.