Occupational Therapy

About The Program

Occupational Therapy has its roots, a century ago, in assisting injured war veterans with their return to civilian life. These days, Occupational Therapy clinicians work in schools, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, skilled nursing and assisted living facilities, mental health clinics and in-home care.

TAI Occupational Therapists at the Providence Health Center, hold advanced degrees from some of the country’s leading graduate Occupational Therapy programs.  They are dedicated to the use of science-driven, evidence-based interventions meant to minimize the challenges presented by illness or injury and to help their patients improve skills that will allow them to perform daily tasks at home, at work and in leisure activities.  Furthermore our Occupational Therapy staff takes pride in their dedication to provide our services with the spirit of TAI’s core values: Excellence, Integrity, Stewardship, and Community.

Program Goals

Our Occupational Therapists will provide the following:

  • An individualized evaluation, during which the patient, the patient’s family, and the occupational therapist will identify performance limiting factors and determine the person’s goals based on the specific health challenges, desired tasks to be restored, and the environment in which said tasks will take place (i.e., home, work, etc.).
  • Customized intervention to improve the person’s ability to perform daily activities and reach the specified goals by enabling or enhancing participation in such activities despite impairment or limitations in physical or mental functioning
  • An outcomes evaluation to ensure that the goals are being met and/or make changes to the intervention plan

Neurological Rehabilitation

Occupational Therapy practitioners address the physical, cognitive, and mental challenges brought on by a neurological disorder (i.e., stroke, traumatic brain injury, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, MS, etc), and can help stroke survivors regain their ability to engage in daily activities through a variety of evidence-based methods. Occupational Therapy views patients holistically, taking into account their needs, desires, activities, environment, and new limitations. They can recommend equipment for the home that can aid a person in completing tasks, evaluate the home for safety hazards, build a person’s physical endurance and strength, assist in minimizing the affects of abnormal tone while maximizing an individual’s motor function, help compensate for vision and cognitive impairment, and provide activities to rebuild self-confidence and functional independence. The goal of Occupational Therapy, as a part of the neurological rehabilitation process, is to enable the individual to return to the highest level of performance.

Research shows that clients who receive occupational therapy interventions are significantly less likely to deteriorate and more likely to be independent in their ability to perform activities of daily living at the end of treatment (Scheer, 2007). Occupational Therapy interventions also may be associated with reduced caregiver burden, decreased rates of re-hospitalization, and increased quality of life for families of persons recovering from a neurological illness.

Orthopedic rehabilitation

Our orthopedic rehabilitation program is progressive and comprehensive and offers a wide range of therapy services and various specialized techniques. Our Occupational Therapists perform thorough individualized evaluations for your particular diagnosis and select treatments based on the results of the evaluation.

The orthopedic rehabilitation program recognizes the individual and not just the diagnosis. We offer a complete range of rehabilitative services and the latest in rehabilitative technology to meet the challenges of each patient and their particular needs. Evaluations, treatments, home programs, education, and communication are our approach to recovery. Our main endeavor is to return each patient to the highest possible level of function, whether that means returning to a varsity sport, casual tennis, or chores around the house.

Wound Care & Scar Management

For wounds acquired as a result of injury (i.e., lacerations, burns, etc.) and/or surgery, one of the issues often overlooked is the need for skilled wound care and scar management.  Furthermore, there are circumstances that can contribute to a poor healing wound (i.e., diabetes, history of keloid scar, vascular disorders, etc.) that, if left unaddressed, can deteriorate into something that requires surgical intervention.  Appropriate wound care can significantly limit the risk of infection, decrease healing time, and decrease time away from meaningful work & leisure activities.  In like manner, proper scar management can encourage flat and pliable scar formation while minimizing the potential for unattractive & dense scarring that can cause the following:  embarrassment, pain, limited range of motion, and impaired function.

From basic whirlpool baths and re-dressing, to the use of physical agent modalities and/or mechanical debridement to help expedite the healing process, our Occupational Therapy staff is trained to address most wounds from simple to complicated.

ADL training

Debilitating illness or injury can significantly impair an individual’s ability to perform previously simple tasks like dressing, eating, bathing, or any number of regular and necessary tasks that are collectively known as Activities of Daily Living (ADLs).  Oftentimes a person’s level of independence with these tasks will determine the level of additional assistance (be it family/friends or hired help) a person may require after a life-altering health event

Regardless of the situation or physical limitation(s), most individuals would prefer to be as independent as possible.  This is where Occupational Therapy may provide a solution for the individual who finds themselves in this circumstance.  Occupational Therapists are experts at task analysis and can specifically identify the disabling factors that limit performance and work with the patient to find practical solutions and enable improved function.

Assistive technology

Simply put, Assistive Technology is technology used by individuals with physical or cognitive limitations in order to perform functions that might otherwise be difficult or impossible. Assistive Technology can include hardware such as adaptive eating utensils, dressing aids, or cellular phone applications & computer/tablet software that can assist people living with various functional impairments in performing relevant tasks like paying bills or providing reminders to take specific medications at the appropriate time.

Currently, there is a tremendous variety of assistive technology that is available.  However, not all of these options are appropriate or necessary.  This is where consultation with an Occupational Therapist would be beneficial in assisting an individual in doing the following:  assessing how physical and/or cognitive limitations are impairing one’s function; providing cost-effective recommendations for the appropriate type(s) of assistive technology equipment; training the individual and/or family member to safely and effectively utilize said assistive devices in order to maximize a person’s independence.

Safety training

With advanced age, or the onset of a debilitating illness, previously simple tasks like getting out of bed, using the toilet, or taking a shower can be potentially dangerous tasks.  Slips and falls in the home due to impaired vision/dizziness/imbalance/weakness/loss of flexibility are an unfortunate reality for many individuals who live with impaired health.  More concerning is that sustaining a fall of this kind can often lead to even greater injury (broken wrists, fractured hips, brain injury).   That said, these types of accidents can be limited or avoided altogether by providing individuals, and/or their family members, with the appropriate equipment and/or techniques that could provide safer mobility throughout their homes and in the surrounding community.

If any of the above concerns sound relevant, it’s likely that a consultation with an Occupational Therapist would be the perfect next step in minimizing your risk for greater injury.  An Occupational Therapist could help assess the physical, visual, or cognitive impairments that limit an individual’s safety and provide recommendations and/or training necessary to increasing a person’s safety and ultimately one’s independence.

In-home safety assessment

A recent change in function and/or health status can greatly affect a person’s ability to safely stay in their own home.  For some individuals, hiring a part-time or full-time caregiver may be the answer, while others may require a move to an assisted living facility.  However for many people, the previously listed options may be too expensive or just unappealing.  So what can a person in this circumstance do when they may truly require some kind of intervention to make sure that they can safely continue to live on their own?

PSJMC Outpatient Occupational Therapy can provide an In-home Safety Assessment that will take into account an individual’s current physical or cognitive limitation and do the following: identify any potentially dangerous obstacles or concerns inside a person’s home; provide practical suggestions on how to adjust current surroundings to minimize risk; give recommendations for safety equipment that will limit the possibility of serious injury.

It’s important to note that, while our Occupational Therapy staff may provide recommendations for the purchase of safety equipment and/or the need to make adjustments to one’s home, PSJMC is not a vendor of said items or installation services and does not have any financial interests in encouraging a patient to purchase said items or services.

Cognitive retraining

Cognitive retraining is a therapeutic strategy that seeks to improve or restore a person’s skills in the areas of paying attention, remembering, organizing, reasoning & understanding, problem-solving, decision making, and higher level cognitive abilities. These skills are all interrelated. Cognitive retraining is one aspect of cognitive rehabilitation, a comprehensive approach to restoring such skills after brain injury or other disability.

The purpose of cognitive retraining is the reduction of cognitive problems associated with brain injury, other disabilities or disorders, and/or aging. The overall purpose of the therapy is to decrease the everyday problems faced by individuals with cognitive difficulties, thereby improving the quality of their lives.  Practically, improving one’s cognitive function will enable a person to perform their daily tasks in an appropriate and effective manner.

Custom orthotic/splint fabrication

One of the unique services we offer is custom orthotic/splint fabrication.  For many upper extremity orthopedic concerns, one of the standards of conservative treatment is to immobilize the affected joint in order to limit the use of the affected area, decrease the inflammation/pain causing movements, and ultimately allow the body to heal without need for more invasive medical intervention (injection or surgery).  In other cases, a custom splint may be required after a surgery in order to protect the integrity of the work performed by a surgeon and minimize movement that may affect healing time.  Another situation where a custom splint may be necessary is in helping re-train hand function of someone who has lost normal movement or dexterity because of a neurological injury like a stroke.

There are a number of conditions that may require a custom fabricated orthotic/splint.  Whatever the reason, our Occupational Therapists are well trained in fabricating comfortable and effective splints that will ensure the proper fit for every individual’s unique body contours.  In addition, the Occupational Therapist will provide follow-up support to make any needed adjustments and also give necessary training and education so that a patient and/or a patient’s family members will be able to safely and securely place-on and take-off said splints to achieve the desired outcomes.

Sensory Re-education

Injuries can sometimes result in impaired or limited sensation.  This is often present when there is damage directly to a nerve or to an adjacent structure.  When an individual’s sensation is affected, it can manifest itself in different ways:  numbness, tingling, temperature sensitivity, tenderness to touch, or simply intense pain.   People struggling with impaired sensation can describe something as harmless as drying one’s hand with a soft towel to feel like being scraped by sandpaper.  In other cases, light external pressure will cause extreme aches as if being squeezed by a vice grip.  While others would describe that their senses have become very dull and they have trouble feeling anything at all.

Although the descriptions can be diverse for this kind of impaired sensory response, the unifying concern is that these symptoms can be very debilitating and limit an individual’s ability to safely work and lead a productive life.  When sensation is affected, at best–it is an annoyance.  However the worst cases often leave people in pain or at risk of hurting themselves unwittingly because the sensation is dulled to the point where someone could cut or burn themselves and not realize it.

For many, Occupational Therapy intervention has proven beneficial in minimizing the severity of these symptoms.  When individuals are experiencing hypersensitivity, the patient will often be put through a graded desensitization program where he/she will systematically be exposed to an increasing degree of stimulus until tolerance is achieved.  In the case of dulled sensation, the patient will be given activities that will attempt to help the body restore normal sensibility.  Of course, it’s important to note that each case is unique and would require careful consideration of the patient’s injury or illness, co-morbid conditions, and overall health.  However, if you are someone who thinks you can benefit from any of the above options, an Occupational Therapy consultation may be your best option.

Lifestyle Redesign

Lifestyle Redesign® is an innovative treatment approach that has been shown to improve health and wellness by preventing and managing chronic conditions through building healthier lifestyles. Over the course of several weeks or months, our Lifestyle Redesign® therapists will guide you through an individualized process that will empower you with the tools needed to meet your personal health goals by redesigning high-risk lifestyles into healthier ones. Prevention and wellness, so often called the future of health care, are here. Lifestyle Redesign® is unlike most other methods of managing specific conditions or improving overall health.  It is based on sound medical research, and specifically has been proven to enhance the health and quality of life for older adults and to reduce health care costs (Clark et al., 1999).

You will meet with an Occupational Therapist throughout your Lifestyle Redesign® process, probably on a weekly basis.  Your Occupational Therapist will find out details about your health history and your current goals, and learn more about your daily habits and routines. With this information, your Occupational Therapist will help you to identify areas for improvement. Together, you will devise steps for making changes that will benefit your health, and you will learn tools for getting back on your program if you have a slip-up.