Occupational therapy more than workplace wellness

When we think of occupational therapy, workplace accidents or injuries are usually the first things that come to mind. But occupational therapy serves a variety of patient and health needs, from preventive care to rehabilitation to mental health.

Occupational therapy (OT) focuses on helping people improve physical or mental functions that may be impairing their ability to carry out normal, daily activities. Occupational therapists work with patients of all ages, from young children to senior adults, to help improve the skills they need to function at home, at work, at school or in their leisure time.

What makes OT unique, according to the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), is its holistic focus on the individual’s capabilities, the activity or activities he or she is having trouble performing, and the environment where the activity is usually performed, such as work, home or other settings.

Occupational therapists work both one-on-one with patients and with business organizations. As an individual patient, you may need a referral from your primary care physician to see an occupational therapist.

The goal of OT depends on the patient and their living or working environment. For a child, the focus might be on physical, mental health or cognitive issues that affect their health, the way they interact with others, or their academic performance. For adults, occupational therapy services can help with rehabilitation after an illness or accident, as well as preventive health and safety in the workplace. For seniors, the scope of OT services includes rehabilitation, but also recovery from surgery or assistance in managing a chronic disease. Occupational therapists also help seniors to stay strong and mobile and maintain life skills that allow them to live independently as they age. According to the AOTA, one-third of occupational therapists work with seniors.

Studies have documented the benefits of OT for a wide range of health diagnoses as diverse as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, problems with fine motor skills, autism, brain and spinal cord injuries, stroke rehabilitation, lower back pain, Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, and osteoarthritis.

Occupational therapists also work with companies to promote corporate wellness, workplace safety, and assistance for employees returning to work after an injury. OT services in the corporate setting might include physical exams, workplace safety evaluations, drug screen services, and physical therapy.

Carlsbad Medical Center’s Therapy Services keeps the members of the Carlsbad community active in both work and play.

Whether you are seeking individual therapy and/or wellness for your company, learn more at www.CarlsbadMedicalCenter.com, or call us at 575-885-1814 and ask about our free consultations for physical, occupational or speech therapy. CMC Therapy Services is located at 401 N. Canal Street.

Wendy Sue Ricer PT, DPT grew up in Carlsbad and graduated from Carlsbad High School. She received her BSPT from Texas Woman’s University and her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Hardin Simmons University. After college she moved to Amarillo where she raised her two children and worked for 20 years. Her kids are in college and grown, so she decided to move home to be close to her family. Wendy is the Director of Therapy Services at Carlsbad Medical Center. She is a board member of United Way and enjoys jogging and being outdoors in her free time.

Remember that this information is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor, but rather to increase awareness and help equip patients with information and facilitate conversations with your physician that will benefit your health.

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