Improve your daily life through increased function | Column
By KIMBERLY ALQUIST
Bothell Reporter Columnist
October 18, 2012 · Updated 8:16 AM
Occupational therapists combine applied anatomy, physiology and psychology, and integrate the science of designing a person’s environment to facilitate the highest level of function. This may include preventing injury and promoting health, safety and comfort, while engaging in tasks related to occupations and living life to the fullest.
Why Occupational Therapy? Occupational Therapists help people across their lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. Occupational therapy practitioners have a holistic perspective from prevention, in which the focus is on adapting the environment to fit the person, to conservative therapeutic techniques for healing. The occupational therapist is an integral part of the therapy team.
Occupational therapy practitioners are trained in the structure and function of the human body, the effects of illness and injury, and facilitate healing related to injury.
They also can determine how the components of the workplace can facilitate a healthy and efficient environment, or one that could cause injury or illness. This includes skilled task analysis of the body in action at work.
Occupational therapists can identify and eliminate accident and injury risk factors in the workplace, or hobbies and activities outside of the workplace, such as actions associated with: repetition, force, fixed or awkward postures, poorly designed tool handles, heavy loads, distance, vibration, noise, extreme temperatures, poor lighting and psychosocial, along with other occupational stresses.
Occupational therapists also analyze job functions and job descriptions based on job tasks; Design pre-hire screenings to determine a candidate’s suitability to a particular job; Provide education and training on injury prevention, workplace health and safety regulations, and managing job-related stress; Determine reasonable accommodations and worksite accessibility that is in compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act; Modify tools and equipment so that they do not enable injury or illness; and Recommend changes employers can take to minimize injury and accident risk factors, or changes to positioning or use of the limbs while engaged in activity.
Common diagnoses that come to us too late for prevention needing therapeutic attention are:
• Carpal Tunnel: wrist median nerve impingement
• DeQuervain’s: thumb extension, first dorsal compartment
• Cubital Tunnel: ulnar nerve impingement
• Tennis Elbow: lateral epicondylitis
• Golfer’s Elbow: medial epicondylitis
• Tendonitis: (‘mixed bag’)
• Neuritis: fascial restrictions and ‘double-crush’
Certified hand therapists are able to assist specific upper extremity conditions in return to function for independence in daily tasks that include the delicate balance of strength and refined distal finger movements involved in activities such as meal preparation, dressing, grooming, managing environmental access such as opening jars, doors and turning a key, driving as well as operating tools and equipment.
Skilled hand therapy intervention is often warranted after severe traumatic injury or post-surgery.
Hand therapists also work with people to prevent work-related injuries and help those with minor overuse work related injuries before they become a bigger problem.
Contact Bothell Pediatric and Hand Therapy for a free consultation at 425-481-1933.