Occupational Therapy Helps Individuals Live Life to Fullest
While many of us take everyday activities such as cooking a meal or buttoning a shirt for granted, they can be very difficult for someone who has suffered loss of function due to a serious injury, neurological disorder, disease, or other medical problem. Occupational therapy services can help by working to restore lost function, allowing individuals to become as self-sufficient as possible in the activities of daily life.
Lakes Regional Healthcare Occupational Therapist Amber Liepold works with patients, family members, physicians, and physical therapists to develop individualized treatment plans designed to help patients resume everyday activities. “We work together to establish realistic goals that help patients lead productive, independent, and satisfying lives. Basically I work to fix the problem or adapt the situation so patients can do things that are important to them using creative solutions or alternatives,” says Liepold.
Services typically include:
• Customized treatment programs to improve one’s ability to perform daily activities
• Comprehensive home and job site evaluations with adaptation recommendations
• Performance skills assessments and treatment
• Adaptive equipment recommendations and usage training
• Guidance to family members and caregivers
Several people can benefit from occupational therapy services. Liepold said, “Just a few examples of who can benefit from occupational therapy include people recovering from stroke, those with wrist fractures, those with repetitive injuries such as tennis elbow and carpal tunnel syndrome, those with rheumatoid arthritis, and people dealing with obesity or hand tremors, just to name a few.”
According to Liepold, people are often surprised to learn that something they thought they automatically had to deal with after an injury or health condition could actually be dealt with so they could continue to enjoy not only normal, everyday activities, but activities they enjoy. She said, “After an illness or injury, it’s difficult to accept limitations in your abilities. Some limitations may always remain, and acceptance of them is important. However, patients may not have to be as debilitated as they’ve come to accept. I not only help to reduce their pain, teach them proper body mechanics so they can be safe, and educate them about how to conserve their energy, I also have several pieces of adaptive equipment that help patients live their lives to the fullest extent. Examples of adaptive equipment include weighted spoons, sock aids to help patients put their socks on, and reachers.”
Liepold’s work also involves helping patients overcome the emotional issues that often accompany a loss of function. “Occupational therapists are especially sensitive to the stress and frustration often felt by patients and their families during the rehabilitative period,” Liepold explained.
Occupational therapists utilize a variety of treatment methods to achieve the following objectives:
• Improve activities of daily living (feeding, dressing, grooming, homemaking, work, child care, etc.).
• Increase upper body functioning.
• Prevent deformity to limbs.
• Educate patients in proper body mechanics and energy conservation.
• Teach alternate ways of performing activities.
• Enhance coping and stress management skills.
• Improve quality of life through involvement in leisure activities and utilization of community resources.
“Our primary goal is to help patients return to a productive, happy lifestyle,” says Liepold.
A physician’s referral is needed to receive occupational therapy services. Those with questions can contact their physician or Lakes Regional Healthcare’s Occupational Therapy department at 712-336-8657.