April is Occupational Therapy Month! Occupational Therapists (OT) help people live life to the fullest; they help patients after injuries, illness, or conditions from birth. “An Occupational Therapist works with patients to help them to acquire or resume as much functional independence as possible in all aspects of life,” says Michele Molina (OT at Theda Clark Medical Center in Neenah, WI).
Doctors determine whether patients should see an OT or a PT (Physical Therapist). While the two types of therapy overlap in some areas, Occupational Therapists focus more on upper extremity strengthening, fine motor skills, and cognitive/visual-perceptual abilities related to improving activities of daily living. These types of therapists can be found in a variety of settings including hospitals, nursing homes, mental health facilities, and schools.
Molina specializes and works with patients after a stroke, brain injury or spinal cord injury. She helps them regain and build muscle using strength bands and dumbbells; some patients benefit by wearing weighted vests for sensory calming and relaxation.
“The most rewarding part of my job is to see people improve their overall function, and meet their goals,” says Molina. “To see someone progress to doing things completely on their own is incredibly rewarding.”
Occupational Therapists are specialists who play an important role in rehabilitation by treating the whole person physically, mentally, and psycho-socially. Whether you need assistance or not, live life to the fullest!