I would like to introduce you to a client of Trinity Regional Medical Center's Occupational Therapy program, her name is ''Betty.'' Betty was just beginning to enjoy her Golden Years. After retiring as a bookkeeper, she was enjoying the things she loved most, playing the piano and organ in her church and taking care of her home and husband. Betty lived a full and independent life. At age 67, she was still able to use her laundry facilities in her basement and drive to the store whenever she needed to until the fateful day when Betty suffered a stroke. No longer was Betty able to care for her home, husband or herself. Her stroke completely changed her life.
Although Betty's story is heartbreaking, Betty was able to regain her independence with the help of Trinity Regional Medical Center's Occupational Therapy program.
Occupational therapy enables people of all ages to live life to its fullest by helping them promote health, and live better with an injury, illness, or disability. It is a practice deeply rooted in science. Occupational therapy is evidence-based medicine, meaning that the plan designed for each individual is supported by data, experience, and ''best practices'' that have been developed and proven over time. Occupational therapists, through Trinity Regional Medical Center, are able to move clients through many levels of care.
Betty's stroke affected her right side, which for Betty was debilitating as she was right-handed. During her first day in the hospital, Betty's doctor asked occupational therapy to visit her. After the occupational therapist evaluated Betty, together they decided to begin Betty's therapy by first focusing on her ability to feed herself with her left arm. They also made a plan to work on bathing, getting into and out of bed, and an exercise program to help her gain strength and use of her right arm.
After her hospital stay, Betty was unable to return home due to the amount of help she required to care for herself. She was admitted to a nursing home for skilled nursing care, which included daily occupational therapy. At the nursing home, occupational therapy focused on dressing, getting in and out of bed, toileting, bathing and right arm function. As Betty progressed, her occupational therapist began to look at her ability to perform the daily tasks she used to do prior to her stroke, like folding laundry and cooking.
After making much progress with therapy and her ability to take care of herself, it was time for Betty to return to her home with her husband. Before Betty went home, the TRMC Occupational Therapy staff made a visit to her home to make sure it was safe for her to return. They were able to make suggestions that included using a bath bench in the bathtub, installing grab bars by the toilet, lowering dishes and glasses in the cupboards, and bringing the washer and dryer to the main floor.
At home, Betty began utilizing home health care services. Occupational therapy in the home focused on safety with bathing, and other daily tasks such as dressing, cleaning, cooking and right arm rehabilitation two to three times a week. As Betty became more mobile and able to get out of the home, she no longer needed the service of home health care.
Now that Betty was able take care of herself, she was more interested in continuing to improve the motion and use of her right arm. She was able to further her progress with Outpatient Occupational Therapy at TRMC's Highland Park Center two to three times a week. Through various types of therapy and utilization of specialized equipment, the focus of outpatient occupational therapy was on improving movement, control and coordination of her right side in order to reach into the closet, fold laundry and shop at the grocery store. Outpatient occupational therapy continued until Betty was able to care for her home on her own. Although Betty continues to require assistance to carry groceries and was unable to return to driving, she now leads a fairly independent life and is back to enjoying her Golden Years.
Occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants focus on ''doing'' whatever occupations or activities are meaningful to a patient. It is occupational therapy's purpose to go beyond problems to solutions that assure patients are living life to its fullest. These solutions might include adaptations for how to do a task, changes to their surroundings, or helping individuals with changes their own behaviors.
When working with an occupational therapist, an individualized treatment plan is written for each patient to resolve their problems, improve function and support everyday living activities. The goal is to return to the highest level of function possible, based on the disability or injury. Through these therapeutic approaches, occupational therapy helps individuals design their lives, develop needed skills, adjust their environments (e.g., home, school, work) and build health-promoting habits and routines that will allow them to thrive.
The TRMC occupational therapists may be members of the American Occupational Therapy Association. Founded in 1917, the AOTA represents the interests and concerns of more the 140,000 occupational therapists, assistants and students nationwide. The association educates the public and advances the profession of occupational therapy by providing resources, setting standards including accreditations and serving as an advocate to improve health care. For more information, go to www.aota.org.
TRMC's occupational therapists are involved in hospital care, home health care, nursing homes and outpatient rehabilitation. Outpatient rehabilitation for the vestibular and lymphedema client is provided at the main campus of TRMC. Outpatient rehabilitation at Highland Park Center is provided for individuals that require hand therapy, stroke rehabilitation and work injuries. In order to participate in occupational therapy, a referral from your physician is required. Please call 574-6900 for more information.
Amy Marlow, senior staff occupational therapist, is part of the health care team at Trinity Regional Medical Center.