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Once again, let’s take a more detailed look at one of the main aspects related to rehabilitation. This week it’s the turn of occupational therapy. For this reason, we will analyze in more detail what an occupational therapist does and what type of clinical goals are normally trained by these rehabilitation professionals.
In this way, we will start with the more basic stuff: what does an occupational therapist do and what are their responsibilities? It is normally said that an occupational therapist is an allied health professional whose main objective is to recover the personal autonomy of their patients while improving their quality of life after suffering from a disease, accident or because of an age-related deterioration. In general, patients and their home environments will be assessed from a functional perspective, using activities and occupation as therapy.
Furthermore, occupational therapists are not only focused on recovering their patients functionality. They will also be responsible for other important aspects that will have a direct effect on the patient’s level of autonomy. This is the case of home environment assessments, the evaluation of available family resources and other social aspects that are fundamental for the recovery and adaptation of the patient.
Resources for Occupational Therapists
On the other hand, just as there are different clinical goals there also are different types of resources for occupational therapists. As a result, to determine what resources will be used, it is important to take into account the goals of each patient and, of course, the treatment that will be applied. That is, how one hopes to achieve the established objectives.
The first ones, the clinical goals, will depend on the needs of each patient. As a result, it is necessary to assess patients to identify the skills and capabilities they still possess and those that are needed to maintain a level of autonomy and participation that improves their quality of life. On the other hand, the applied treatment, will normally be focused on training the skills and capabilities needed to perform the activities of daily living (ADLs), train patients on the use of technical aids, the adaptation of their physical surroundings and, the design and use of leisure activities, but always with a clinical goal in mind.
This is why there are multiple resources associated with the applied treatment for each patient. It is possible to design activities that mix motor and cognitive goals and that, on top of that, take place in real-world environments. Finally, virtual rehabilitation platforms like Rehametrics will also provide very useful resources for occupational therapists.
Occupational Therapy in Geriatrics
Moreover, the goals normally associated with this rehabilitation discipline can be applied to multiple types of patients. In this way, occupational therapy can be used for geriatrics, mental health conditions, neurological or post-surgical disorders, learning disabilities, pediatrics, occupational rehabilitation and with many other health conditions. On the other hand, as many of you already know, each patient will have different needs. It is because of this that, although we normally refer to a single discipline, occupational therapists tend to specialize according to the needs of their patients.
In geriatrics, for example, the majority of goals set by occupational therapists will focus in preventing the loss of functionality associated with aging. In the same way, occupational therapy applied to neurological disorders will have as its main objective the recovery of lost function. This can be obtained by training patients in the performance of basic and advanced activities of daily living. Although emphasis will also be placed on patient reeducation to compensate lost skills and capabilities as a result of the condition suffered. In this way, through the recovery and reeducation of lost skills and capabilities, it is possible to gain a greater autonomy.
Finally, just as with online physiotherapy, the use of digital technologies can also bring multiple benefits to occupational therapy. These digital technologies (among which we also find Rehametrics) provide multiple benefits for both rehabilitation professionals as well as for patients.
For the first ones, the use of a solution like Rehametrics allows them to automatically collect objective data during the rehabilitation sessions completed by their patients. Using data collected during rehabilitation sessions, occupational therapists will have a global view -from a physical, cognitive and language perspective- of patient evolution. This, of course, helps them make changes to patient treatment plans more efficiently. And, as expected, it also makes it easier to obtain better outcomes from the rehabilitation process.
For patients, Rehametrics offers them a more motivating and fun way to recover lost motor and cognitive functions. The use of multiple gamification techniques -including levels of difficulty, patient rankings and game achievements, among others- can deliver leisure-oriented activities, but with a clear clinical focus.