What is Occupational therapy?
Occupational therapists (OT) are rehabilitation specialists that focus on improving everyday activities to include work in the home such as personal care, daily chores, and work activities. An OT works to improve job skills, home and work safety, and in some cases evaluate driving, perform work injury evaluations, home safety evaluations and caregiver education and training.
How can OT help people with PD?
Many people think OT is only for people that are working or having trouble with their work routine. The benefits and goals of OT are much more and can help people with Parkinson’s disease in many ways. Review the Interdisciplinary team worksheet with your provider to see if a referral to OT is right for you. The following is a short list of ways OT can help:
- Develop home exercise program to improve shoulder function, hand use
- Treat arm and shoulder strength problems, hand dexterity, handwriting difficulty
- Endurance/strength training
- Motor biofeedback, stress management and relaxation techniques
- Dressing, hygiene, performing daily chores, meal preparation
- Instruction on performing transfers (bed, tub, toilet, wheelchair)
- Improving mobility, task efficiency, and safety
- Use of adaptive equipment or aids (i.e. grab bars, commodes, tub seats, etc)
- Occupational and work related concerns
- Computer, desk set up and workstation changes to improve function
- Home assessments for safety issues due to balance problems or cognitive problems
- Driving assessment
- Teaching new methods of performing the tasks of daily living to preserve energy and reduce fatigue
- Identify problems with movement freezing and the environment
- Medication and time management
- Hand dexterity, Arm and shoulder problems
- Day planning and time management to include energy conservation
- Disease self - management to live best with PD
- Cognitive therapy
- Carepartner education and training
- Nonmotor treatment of symptoms to include strategies to minimize
- sleep hygiene
- bowel and bladder management
How can I find an occupational therapist in my area?
Ask your healthcare provider for a prescription and referral to OT. Your community hospital or medical center will most likely have OTs that specialize in neurorehabilitation (given the number of people seen in hospitals with stroke) and conditions such as Parkinson’s disease. If you are seeing a physical therapist, ask this person if OT can be helpful to you and for a reference. It is sometimes helpful to talk with other members of a support group to see who is available in your community.
An OT holds a Masters or doctoral degree and must pass a national examination. Ask your OT about their training, philosophy of care and years experience with Parkinson’s to see if this person is right for you.
How can I learn more?
More information on OT is available in the update link in this section or log on to The American Occupational Therapy Association, www.aota.org/Consumers.aspx.