Like physical therapy, occupational therapy can be necessary after an injury or surgery to regain function in the affected area of the body. The difference between physical therapy and occupational therapy is how the therapist helps the patient achieve functionality. Physical therapy analyzes the patient’s specific injury and involves targeted treatment for this injury. Occupational therapy, on the other hand, focuses more on how the patient can use his or her current ability level to complete daily tasks while working to improve functionality. Occupational therapy can involve the use of tools to aid in these tasks and adaptations to the patient’s home or work environment to make them more accessible. In some cases, occupational therapists do directly treat injuries, but this is secondary to developing skills and learning to complete tasks.

Why Would I Need Occupational Therapy?

Following an injury that limits your functionality, occupational therapy can be critical to recovering the functionality you lost and enabling you to live independently again. Traumatic brain injuries and injuries to the spinal cord can significant impair an individual’s ability to complete everyday tasks, as can any injury to the musculoskeletal system.

Occupational therapy can be used to improve any of the following in a patient:

  • Coordination;

  • Balance;

  • Motor skills;

  • Strength;

  • Dexterity;

  • Adapting to completing tasks and living with a disability; and

  • Problem solving.

Exercises and Other Treatments Used in Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy can improve both physical functionality and one’s cognitive abilities. A few examples of treatments used in occupational therapy include:

  • Tossing a weighted ball. This can improve strength and range of motion. A patient may start with a very light ball and gradually move up to tossing and catching heavier balls with the therapist;

  • Fine motor activities. To improve a patient’s motor skills and hand-eye coordination, activities like placing pegs into small holes may be used. This may be done with a weighted cuff;

  • Coordination games. Games like marbles may be used to help a patient recover strength in the fingers and coordination between the brain, eyes, and arm and hand muscles; and

  • Emotional counseling. Often, a therapist works with the patient to overcome emotional and psychological difficulties that stem from his or her injury. This can include identifying new emotions or difficulties after the injury and developing ways to handle these feelings. A therapist may also help a patient develop strategies for handling challenges that arise in his or her everyday life.

Work with an Experienced Chicago Medical Malpractice Lawyer

It is not uncommon for occupational therapy to be part of a recovery plan for an injury victim. If your doctor recommends that you undergo physical therapy as part of your recovery plan, take the time to learn about what you can expect from your occupational therapy sessions and how they factor into your recovery as a whole. Our team at Baizer Kolar, P.C. can discuss your rights as an injured patient and what you can seek through your settlement, which can include compensation for your occupational therapy expenses.