Written by Cynthia Raczko, OTR/L
Occupational therapy (OT) is the only profession that helps people across the lifespan to do things they want to do through the use of therapeutic activities (occupations). Occupational therapists enable people of all ages to live life to its fullest by helping them promote health and prevent or live better with injury, illness or disability.
OT interventions focus on adapting the environment through modifications, modifying the task, teaching a skill and educating the person, care partner and family in order to increase participation and ability to perform daily activities. OT is practical and customizable, focusing especially on activities that are important and meaningful to each specific person.
OT encompasses several different areas:
- Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). These are the basic self care skills of eating, dressing, grooming, bathing, toileting and toilet hygiene and personal care devices (contacts, glucometers, hearing aids, etc).
- Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs). These include the care of others, care of pets, financial management, driving and community mobility, health and medication management, meal prep and clean up, religious and spiritual activities, shopping, safety and emergency maintenance, etc.
- Functional Mobility. This includes getting around your home and environment to perform your daily activities, transfers to bed, toilet, bathtub/shower, couch, recliner chair, wheelchair and car, etc.
- Adaptive Equipment. This includes long handle utensils to reach your feet or back, tremor management eating utensils, non skid mats, button hook, lidded cup with straw, scoop dish, adaptive pen, etc.
- Work Activities. This includes work station set-up/ergonomics, adaptive devices to make it easier to perform work tasks (tremor management software/keyboard cover, adaptive mouse, Dragon Speak software, etc.).
- Cognition. This includes activities to stimulate cognitive function to maximize performance (memory and organizational strategies, visual spatial skills, divided attention, etc.).
How OT can help improve your quality of life throughout the stages of Parkinson’s:
Let this be a guide as you begin exploring how OT can help you, and be sure to consult with your health care provider first before trying these tips. To find an occupational therapist to address your needs throughout all the stages of Parkinson’s, contact your primary doctor or neurologist for a referral.
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