John R. Callen is the CEO of MedRehab Alliance, LLC., a therapy advisory, consulting, and management company specializing in the supervision of therapy services within numerous in-patient and out-patient facilities. In the following article, John R. Callen discusses the many ways occupational therapy helps to improve independence in the lives of patients.
Occupational therapy (OT) helps those suffering from various difficulties with the ability to access parts of their daily life that others might take for granted.
OT always puts the patient at the forefront. This means that goals are determined by the individual’s wants and needs. Using this information, a tailored and holistic intervention program considering all of the factors that help to build independence and crucial life skills is implemented.
John R. Callen of MedRehab Alliance says that to understand more about how occupational therapy works and how it helps to foster independent individuals, he dives into what the programs involve, processes and general outcomes below.
How Occupational Therapy Works
John R. Callen of MedRehab Alliance explains that occupational therapy revolves around asking patients: “What matters to you?” By utilizing a holistic approach, taking into consideration the physical, cognitive, and emotional factors that can affect a person’s ability to perform daily activities, occupational therapists (OTs) can help their patients access life in the way that that supports them.
This usually starts with an assessment to sort out the wants and needs of the person being assisted and from there, the OT will be able to coordinate a plan based on the requirements and limitations of the patient.
Working with the therapist, the person can be assisted using various techniques, technologies, or reasonable adjustments in order to carry out tasks independently reports John R. Callen of MedRehab Alliance.
Who Benefits from OT
Individuals from all walks of life can benefit from occupational therapy. This includes all ages, from children with developmental delays or disabilities to elderly individuals needing assistance.
John R. Callen of MedRehab Alliance suggests that those living with chronic conditions both physical and mental, as well as those suffering from the effects of injuries, health problems, and surgeries, such as a stroke, TBI or amputation, can find support within an OT program to regain their quality of life.
The Process Involved
The occupational therapy process according to the American Occupational Therapist Association (AOTA) comprises 3 main components:
John R. Callen of MedRehab Alliance says that this step reviews the needs, wants and goals of the client. An initial evaluation also determines the patient’s “baseline” of performance of basic tasks, as well as reviewing what limitations they face, whether these are physical, mental, or situational.
From here, an intervention plan is put in place using the information gathered during the evaluation to create a plan of how the OT and the client can work as a team to achieve their goals.
The intervention and therapy itself can take many forms, depending on what the patient needs.
It could include physical interventions to improve mobility or accessibility, either in the form of treatment or technology, group interventions, virtual therapy, advocacy, targeted occupational therapy, or education and training.
For example, John R. Callen of MedRehab Alliance explains that a patient suffering from a developmental learning delay may need group intervention to help with social skills, advocacy for reasonable adjustments in their school or place of work, as well as more targeted therapy to help with the difficulties of their condition, and to learn new skills.
The most important aspect of OT is how patients feel and benefit after the process. Have they been able to achieve their goals? Are there noticeable changes to their quality of life?
John R. Callen of MedRehab Alliance reports that OTs use objective goals to monitor progress and to make sure that the therapeutic plan has been effective. This allows for a more concrete measure of the impact that the program has had on the individual.
Re-evaluations are usually done in increments throughout the program, and adjustments are made along the course, to ensure that the patient is improving from therapy sessions.
However, the patients themselves also provide an analysis of their take on their outcomes, which are known as patient-reported outcomes. These might include a boost in confidence or general satisfaction of daily tasks.
How This Therapy Helps to Improve Independence
Independence and daily quality of life look different for every individual. For example, a young person might place more emphasis on being able to socialize and engage in fun activities, whereas another individual might want to get better at daily chores and skills to reduce the need for a care-giver or be able to access a career of choice.
John R. Callen of MedRehab Alliance explains that what these all have in common is balance. OTs need to make sure they are able to let the patient do as much as they safely can on their own without intervening to foster a culture of independence and self-growth.
This helps to build confidence, reduce reliance on others, and also prevent learned helplessness, where the individual begins to feel they are unable to do anything by themself.
Occupational therapy is a valuable and effective approach for improving independence in individuals of all ages and abilities. By addressing physical, cognitive, and emotional challenges, these specialized therapists help their clients achieve their goals and live life to the fullest.
With the use of adaptive equipment, modification of daily activities, and personalized treatment plans, occupational therapy can greatly enhance an individual’s quality of life, allowing them to participate in meaningful activities and experience greater levels of independence.