occupational therapy bay state pt

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy is an evidence-based treatment which works with each patient to help them reach their highest level of functioning. Interventions include helping people to recover and regain skills from an injury, treating injuries that affect the arm and hand, helping children with disabilities participate in school, and helping seniors improve cognitive and physical skills. An occupational therapy plan is comprehensive and personal and includes:

  • Individualized evaluation to determine patient goals
  • Customized intervention activities to improve daily tasks and activities
  • Outcomes evaluation to determine if goals were met or to make changes to the plan

Occupational therapy is similar to physical therapy. While physical therapy focuses on the patient’s ability to perform movement of the body, occupational therapy focuses on the patient’s ability to perform daily living activities. For example, a physical therapist will work with a person who has had a stroke to rebuild muscle strength, while an occupational therapist will work with the same person to maximize independence in daily activities, like cooking, cleaning, eating, bathing, and dressing or work activities.  An occupational therapist teaches patients how to adapt tasks to make them easier, often by using adaptive equipment or strengthening the patient’s underlying abilities to do the task.

Hand Therapy

Hand therapy is a specialized area of occupational therapy that  focuses on treating orthopedic upper-extremity issues meant to optimize the functional use of the arm and hand. Typical conditions that affect the hand are lacerations, amputations, tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, fractures and rheumatoid arthritis. In general, hand therapy focuses on the biomechanical issues of upper-extremity conditions. It is a patient-centered approach that addresses the needs of the patient, such as being able to lift things, open a jar, or button a shirt.

Hand therapy interventions provided by an occupational therapist may include therapeutic exercises, mirror therapy, orthosis design, pain management, manual therapy, taping, ergonomics, and compression therapy. Activities for a hand injury with an occupational therapist may include working with putty, using a gripper and using dumbbells.

The benefits of hand therapy include:

  • Preventative, non-operative or conservative treatment
  • Management of acute or chronic pain
  • Desensitization following nerve injury or trauma
  • Sensory re-education after nerve injury
  • Design and implementation of home exercise programs to increase motion, dexterity, and/or strength
  • Customized splint fabrication for prevention or correction of injury
  • Training in the performance of daily life skills through adapted methods and equipment
  • Conditioning prior to returning to work

Overall, occupational therapy goes beyond addressing injuries. It includes the functional needs of the patient and implements activities to promote psychological well-being. According to the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), in addition to dealing with an individual’s physical well-being, Occupational Therapy Practitioners address psychological, social, and environmental factors that may hinder an individual’s functioning in different ways. For example, occupational therapy for a young patient may include using a special tool to make cupcakes at home. Occupational therapy is a vital part of healthcare for patients. People tend to feel better emotionally when they can engage in everyday activities.

Do you have an injury or medical condition that is causing pain and limiting your daily activities? Would you like to learn more about how occupational therapy and physical therapy can help you eliminate your pain and improve performance? Give Bay State Physical Therapy a call today. Our certified and caring physical and occupational therapists are committed to helping you get on the road to recovery. Feel better and get back to your life with occupational therapy and physical therapy.


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