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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

home : features : features July 22, 2014

9/29/2013 6:00:00 AM
Occupational therapy returns people to independence, improves quality of life
Yavapai Regional Medical Center

Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.

Occupational therapists (OTs) no doubt can appreciate the significance of these John Lennon song lyrics more than most. They understand that people don't place "debilitating medical condition or disability" followed by "strenuous recovery" on their calendars.

When the unplanned does happen, OTs are there to help people of all ages - pediatric to geriatric - with disabilities, traumatic injuries or progressive medical conditions, including:

• Upper extremity and hand injuries;

• Lymphedema;

• Head injury;

• Hip or knee replacement;

• Stroke; and

• Many more.

What's the role of occupational therapy in healthcare delivery? According to Lindsey Henderson, OT, Physical Rehabilitation Services at Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC), the answer is in the name of the profession itself.

"Our lives are made up of meaningful, everyday activities," she said. "These are our occupations. Most people don't think about their daily occupations until they have difficulty accomplishing them."

Occupations can be roles, such as being a spouse, parent or friend. They can be activities-playing tennis, preparing a meal or operating a car. A toddler's occupations are playing and learning important developmental skills. Occupations for older adults may comprise daily activities, such as dressing themselves or brushing their teeth. An occupation is anything that occupies your time.

YRMC's OT team helps patients reach their maximum level of function and independence using technology, adaptive equipment and physical rehabilitation. Depending on the patient's needs, these may include:

• Exercising to increase motion and/or strength;

• Re-training people in the activities of daily living (dressing, bathing, grooming, etc.);

• Creating crafts;

• Working with adaptive equipment to make reaching and moving easier;

• Training patients to transfer themselves from one place to another (e.g., get into and out of the bed or bathtub);

• Building coordination; and

• Fabricating splints to prevent injuries.

"It's important that the treatment plan is meaningful to the individual," Lindsey said. "We want people to enjoy the highest possible quality of life."

This means involving patients in treatment planning and goal setting. For example, Lindsey worked recently with an avid golfer who wanted to return to the course after a stroke. She developed an OT plan that included exercises to build strength, increase range of motion and improve coordination. After three months, he is back on the golf course.

OT also focuses on day-to-day activities. Lindsey recalls a patient whose goal was to gain his range of motion and hand strength after a wrist fracture in order to open his car door and then start the engine. He now can do both.

The YRMC team includes four registered/licensed OTs and two certified OT assistants. The team works with hospitalized patients as well as patients in an outpatient capacity at YRMC West in Prescott and YRMC's Del E. Webb Outpatient Center in Prescott Valley. YRMC's OT professionals coordinate with physical therapy and speech therapy teams at the hospital and in outpatient settings, ensuring that all aspects of recovery are integrated to achieve maximum benefit for patients.

Occupational therapy practitioners are skilled healthcare professionals who use research and scientific evidence to ensure effective patient interventions. To schedule a visit with an occupational therapist, ask your physician about a referral for OT services.

While the unplanned does happen in life, OTs help people regain independence and quality of life.

As the next verse of the Lennon song goes, "Every day in every way, it's getting better and better."

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, October 02, 2013
Article comment by: Donald A. Golen MD

I could not agree more with this article. OT's are vital to the welfare of our community. I can only say thank you on behalf of so many of my patients that you have helped and the many thousands of other patients you have rendered service to over the years. Again, thank you.

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