An OT will apply their training and knowledge of care, equipment and therapies to help a mobility impaired individual. They will often work collaboratively with the client to develop plans, as well as consult with the immediate family who may be involved in daily support. So what are the key benefits of working closely with an OT as a mobility impaired person or a close family member? In this article we explore 5 of these:
Occupational therapists’ primary goal is to remove obstacles that mobility impaired people face when trying to live their lives. An OT will make a careful assessment of the individual, their family support available, the house they live in, nearby facilities, access and other factors. They will also conduct a number of tests to determine the degree of help required based on the mobility level of their client.
It’s not until one has to live with a mobility impairment that we understand just how many different physical tasks a typical day demands. From getting out of bed in the morning to brushing teeth before bed, there are hundreds of small moments throughout the day that can be adversely affected due to an illness, an injury or physical condition.
An occupational therapist’s job is to help find resolutions to these struggles. They’ll not just come up with a solution alone however; the assessment will often include family members or the individual themselves to agree on a plan that works for everyone. The value of choice in the day’s activities can’t be overstated as far as keeping the individual motivated.
As the plan’s developed to get through each task, it’s common that the OT will find a healthy balance between what the client can manage themselves and what needs support. Again, maintaining independence where possible is a great motivator and may help the individual accept help in other areas.
The OT can also assist with hospital patients and their discharge. Everyone wants to get home from hospital sooner but does the home environment allow for the discharge?
Occupational therapists aren’t just there to assess their clients’ mobility and home lives. A key part of being an OT is through the many connections they have with health authorities, carers, equipment retailers, community programmes, meal services and many more. Part of building a successful plan is aligning help tactfully; too much help and independence is taken away from the individual. Too little, and daily life can end up being harder than it needs to be. One of the critical supports that OTs coordinate is that of home help. With home help, a professional, trained carer will come and visit the home according to a set schedule in which they’ll directly assist the mobility impaired person with certain activities. Home help will often be incorporated into a plan in concert with family member support – which is important to both give the family respite and some training on best practices for care.
Support may also include home help to cook meals, care for pets and keep the house clean and tidy. Each person is different and has their own level of care, which is why an OT is a valuable resource to make use of to get the right plan in place.
The degree of impairment may be permanent and consistent for some individuals. For others, there’s an evolving degree of mobility based on either recovery, rehabilitation or deterioration. An occupational therapist’s job isn’t to simply create a perfect plan at the start of the engagement and never return; they’ll be checking in routinely to review how the plan is going and to reassess the level of mobility. If things have improved, an OT may start to bring back more independence to their client; removing assistive devices or human support for elements of the day in an effort to empower the individual to take these back on themselves. The daily routine may need to change with more personal mobility as well, in which case it’s valuable to have a qualified OT to provide professional guidance on what is and isn’t realistic.
On the flipside, sometimes mobility degrades over time, such as in the case of an elderly person losing strength or reaction time. It can also occur through a disease or other condition. In these situations it’s important to keep the OT involved in the process so they can make adjustments to the daily and weekly plan, allowing the person to remain living in their own home, where possible. They’ll be able to suggest equipment, care and tips for family members to accommodate the ‘new normal’ of their loved ones’ mobility.
Showerbuddy works with occupational therapists perhaps more than anyone else. Our global network of excellent OTs have incredible practical knowledge on assistive technology and equipment available to help certain activities. OTs will support clients and their families to understand the different options available. When it comes time to bring in a new piece of assistive equipment, it’s not uncommon for the OT to oversee the installation process. This allows them to test the effectiveness of the solution, make adjustments where necessary and show their client how to get the most out of it. Such equipment can be anything from hoists to shower chairs, adjustable height couches to smart home voice activated kitchen control.
An occupational therapist may start by planning how to live easier in the home, but their remit extends beyond this. Getting out and about requires its own plan to conduct safely and efficiently with a mobility impairment. OTs will build a plan to help transport be a less stressful experience. This might involve helping the family configure a vehicle for easy transport of their loved one. It may also involve connecting the client with transport services in the community.
Once out and about, it’s important that mobility impaired individuals feel safe to move around and get where they need to be. Public places like shopping centres, libraries, cafes, parks are all excellent places to visit for a change of scenery but will require a bit of forward planning. An OT will help determine where the challenges might be and come up with an approach to managing these.
A huge number of mobility-impaired people worldwide have careers and workplaces to get to; this is also an environment and set of challenges that an occupational therapist will assess and provide support around.
REHACARE.com; Source: Showerbuddy