Occupational Therapy Department Treatment Items

Advancements in modern medicine has improved the lives of countless individuals. As the technology emerges and research continues, once life threatening or debilitating diseases can often be prevented or dealt with effectively, although in the case of physical and occupational therapies, less is often more. Although the two fields are closely related and desire the same positive outcome with regards to patient rehabilitation, they differ in both their approach and equipment.

  1. Features

    • Whereas physical therapy (PT) often uses equipment and methods designed to directly target a problem area (for example, gait belts for patient stability), occupational therapy (OT) utilizes common household objects or games for therapeutic purpose. Because OT patients are often those who are experiencing difficulties resulting from traumatic brain injuries such as stroke or work-related accidents, full recovery isn't usually the norm. The purpose for the OT's equipment is to accommodate any deficiencies by working with the patient to attain some level of functional independence.


    • Common household items can be used or modified for OT patient use. Using a circular pizza cutter instead of a knife to cut meals is an example. Creativity on the part of the OTs and OTAs (OT assistants) plays a large part in equipment implementation; simple mechanisms like yardsticks adorned with colored clothespins, boards covered in deadbolt locks of various sizes, highly flexible eating utensils, and pegboards with smaller than average pegs all are created by the therapists to re-introduce fine motor skills. Basic craft making is a popular way to engage patients in their own rehab process. Equipment varies from facility to facility and sometimes treatment items may overlap with that of the PTs, as splints and braces are widely used, especially in outpatient settings.


    • The goal of occupational medicine is to engage a patient's mind as well as their body, giving the patient a sense of empowerment by taking an active role in rehab. Often equipment is presented as a game so that the patient will find purpose in the activity and increase the effects of the outcome. Other times, equipment is a means to an end. The "sock sling," a common OT device for sliding on socks, is made of nothing more than two strings and a plastic cup and serves no other therapeutic purpose. By giving the patient engaging activities (like the pegboard) and useful tools (like the sock sling), a combination of modalities is reached to benefit the patient in their recuperation process.


    • Occupational therapy wasn't considered an actual part of medicine until the pioneering work of OT proponents like Eleanor Clark Slagle and William Dunton, as both brought the need of patient specific therapy to the forefront. By concentrating on the use of basic household items or items that mimic them, OT became a separate identity from PT while still maintaining its close association.


    • Occupational Therapists and their assistants strive to provide their patients with meaningful active choices to improve the mind/body relationship and enhance the recovery process. Compared to other fields of medicine, OT is relatively young; although recognized by the medical community as a viable and needed therapy, many feel OT's benefit has yet to be fully realized. By incorporating the need for patient independence with treatments meant to restore dignity--and utilizing basic equipment--OT has proven its value.

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