2014-03-12 / Healthy Living

Occupational therapy helps restore skills of daily living

Lee Memorial Health System

Most people take performing everyday tasks for granted — until an illness, injury or other disability occurs and robs them of those basic skills. But with the help of occupational therapists (OTs), people can recover daily living and work skills.

“As OTs, our focus is to adapt environments, modify tasks, teach new skills, and educate patients and families, in order to increase participation in and performance of daily activities with patients who have various disabilities,” explains Betsy Exley, a licensed occupational therapist with 25 years of experience.

OTs work with patients of all ages and with all types of impairments, including hand injuries, joint disease, cognitive impairments, mental disabilities or impairments, head injuries and paralysis.

“Each patient is evaluated on his or her needs and abilities,” Ms. Exley says. “Depending on the patient’s condition or problem, as well as his or her needs and abilities to perform the activities needed to function throughout the day, we design a customized treatment plan.”

Ms. Exley says the length of treatment varies from patient to patient, too. “Some patients may only need one session, while others require several months of skilled services,” she says. “Our primary focus becomes educating the patient and family about his or her condition and providing them with exercise programs that they can perform in their home environment.”

Patients must have a referral from their physicians to be evaluated and to have a customized program created by an occupational therapist. If you have an illness, injury or impairment, speak to your physician about whether you would benefit from occupational therapy. ¦

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