Occupational therapy may share some techniques with physical therapy, but these two treatments often have different goals. Occupational therapy is excellent for helping people manage chronic conditions. During occupational therapy, emphasis will be placed on modifying movements and tasks to better accommodate your body's limitations.
Occupational therapy centers hire occupational therapists who want to help you live your life to the fullest. If your primary care physician thinks you can benefit from OT, they may refer you to such a center. Here are four things you can expect when beginning occupational therapy:
1. You will receive physical exercises.
Occupational therapy often consists of physical exercises that help patients complete daily tasks. People with difficulties using their hands due to arthritis or a stroke may be given therapy to strengthen their fine motor control. These exercises are not a competition. Instead, you can see them as a gentle approach to helping you regain your independence.
2. You will learn how to conserve your energy.
Strengthening your body is only one aspect of occupational therapy. While building stamina is a worthwhile goal, you will also learn how to best use the energy you already have. Energy conservation is an important technique, especially for people with limited physical resources. Your occupational therapist will help you be more mindful of the activities you do each day. Simple modifications, like sitting down while you cook or brush your teeth, can make daily tasks less strenuous. Energy conservation is a great strategy for people with heart conditions, mental illnesses, and other chronic disorders.
3. You will receive education on managing your condition.
People with disabilities are often highly aware of their limitations. However, they may not intuitively grasp the way that diet and daily activities can impact their wellbeing. Patient education can help. The right knowledge can make living with any health condition easier. Your occupational therapist will give you helpful educational material that will teach you how to better care for yourself.
4. You must understand that progress takes time.
It's understandable that you want to get better right away. However, progress takes time. Healing from an injury or relearning to make certain motions without pain won't happen overnight. However, with hard work and consistent effort, you can make significant progress. Your occupational therapist will keep you on track, giving you new exercises and adjusting your OT regimen as you get stronger. Be patient and trust that your occupational therapist has your health and recovery as their highest priority.