Let’s Thank Our Occupational Therapists

Image of occupational therapist working with senior male to write.

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April is Occupational Therapy Month, the perfect time to thank the more than 230,000 occupational therapists in the United States for the important work they do. Of course, this is particularly important to the Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) as we employ several occupational therapists who dedicate their lives helping care for people.

Occupational therapy is an empirical-based practice with its genesis in science.  Occupational therapists focus on a patient’s needs in their daily routine, approaching it in a holistic manner to promote optimal quality of life for the patient. This means that the therapist will adapt the patient’s therapy to their environment, incorporating tasks that fit the person; everyone’s needs are unique and the occupational therapist will create a plan-of-care geared toward each patient.

Occupational therapy is for any age, from children to seniors. Typical occupational therapy for children would be helping those with disabilities so they can participate in typical student and school activities, adjusting when a situation requires it. And for people of any age, occupational therapy would be to help people who are recovering from injury or stroke to relearn skills such as walking and dressing.

According to the University of Pittsburgh, occupational therapy services typically include:

  • an individualized evaluation, during which the client/family and occupational therapist determine the person’s goals
  • customized intervention to improve the person’s ability to perform daily activities and reach the goals
  • an outcomes evaluation to ensure that the goals are being met and/or make changes to the intervention plan.

We asked one of our VNA Occupational Therapists, Kathleen Norman, B.S., what kind of care she provides based on her several years of experience. “From my point of view, the most typical kind of patient care an occupational therapist provides is assisting a patient back to their prior level of function with bed mobility, grooming, dressing, bathing, transfers, muscle strength, safety awareness and fall prevention,” says Kathleen. “The types of therapies that I provide beyond what I have revealed are lymphedema management, low vision and incontinence therapy.”

Occupational therapy also helps seniors who are experiencing physical and cognitive issues. “Working with patients with cognitive impairments care can include a variety of different skills, mainly safety awareness and fall prevention, keeping cognitive-impaired people safe in their environment to prevent injury,” says Kathleen, adding, “I love being an occupational therapist because I get to see patients in their own home environment and assist them to their high level of function. With their skills for living.”

To find out more about services provided by the VNA, visit vnatc.com.

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