Monday, August 22, 2011

What is Occupational Therapy?

My mother and I have had a recent 'interesting' OT experience that I just feel compelled to blog about.  My mother, a healthy woman in her late 60's  (True Southern Women never reveal their true ages, you know) ;), had a total hip replacement last Tuesday.  All went very well and by Friday, she was walking using a walker and standby assistance from PT/PTA to walk about 75 feet.  She transferred to a rehab facility over the weekend and today (Monday) had her rehab OT and PT evals and treatments.  Not surprisingly, Mom reported that the OT came to do her eval while Mom was doing her ADLs (activities of daily living) this morning in her room and then this afternoon, she was taken to the rehab room for more OT.  She was put on a 'hand bicycle' (looks like pedals on a tripod frame that one can use on a table top) and was told to pedal the bicycle with her hands/arms to 'build up her upper extremity strength'.  Now, I was there when the PT did his eval last week and he verbalized his manual muscle testing results (he knew I was an OT) and Mom had good to good+ upper extremity strength; this didn't surprise me because in the 3 weeks prior surgery  I had demonstrated to Mom exercises to build up her strength as I knew she would need it after surgery (isn't that what every daughter who is an OT would do??)  ;)  When I asked Mom today if the OT did any manual muscle testing, Mom said "No."  Hmm...interesting...then how did the OT know that Mom needed to 'build up her upper extremity strength'?  And why did the OT use only a hand bicycle for the entire OT session?  And where is the occupation in that?  And finally, why did the OT and OTAs and techs think it was OK to set Mom up on the hand bicycle and then stand around and talk about wedding plans and wedding dresses during the entire session??  I asked Mom who the OT was and she told me her name and I have to report that I was greatly relieved that she wasn't one of my former students!  In truth, though, I'm embarrassed by this OT; we are OCCUPATIONAL therapists and even though I will use readiness activities (ie: exercises, strengthening activities, etc.) to prepare a client for occupational activities, I would do far more than set someone up on a hand bicycle and I certainly wouldn't stand around talking about wedding plans.  What a lost opportunity to establish rapport and learn about the client's areas of occupations, perceived needs, personal goals, etc.?!  Perhaps these things will come in the days ahead...I hope so not only for Mom's sake but for all our clients'sakes; they all certainly deserve our very best efforts.

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