When working with clients I work within Multi-Disciplinary Teams (MDTs). The MDT includes different professionals such as Psychologists, Speech and Language Therapists and Occupational Therapists (OTs).
In this blog post I am going to discuss:
An OTs role in rehabilitation
The research behind an OTs input
How it has been for me working with OTs
What is an OTs Role in Rehabilitation?
The goal of occupational therapy is to 'maximise independence in all areas of occupation' (pg 135-161, Acquired Brain Injury). Areas of occupation include activities, daily living skills, rest and sleep, education, paid and unpaid work, leisure activities and socialising.
I have worked with many different OTs when working with my clients. I can safely say that they try to work on some, if not all, of these occupational areas. They do this many different ways.
OTs take baseline assessments to measure a client's skills. They assess daily living skills, record sleep, take notes on work and education and do observations with clients to get a better idea of their ability first-hand.
Based on assessments they try to help facilitate different skills. For example, if a client struggles to get in and out of the bath, they may introduce a bath chair to facilitate using the bath. They may also work with other professionals such as physiotherapists to try and work on a goal of getting into the bath independently.
First-hand I have seen how creative and effective an OTs input can be. One of my clients loved hands on labour work. The OT identified this when they met and arranged for the client to work in a woodland area with different tools and equipment (after risk assessments of course). My client loved this. They looked forward to the outing every week and it built their physical ability up so that they became healthier and fitter, impacting positively on their rehabilitation.
Another OT managed to get one of my clients a voluntary job in a local store. This then added to their sense of fulfilment and helped them become a part of a social group again, increasing their communication.
The Research Behind an OTs Input
Doherty et al (2020) looked into the effectiveness of an OTs treatment with Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) clients. After 12-weeks of OT input, all 26 individuals in the study had better goal improvement, functional balance, perceived physical health and participation in activities. Individuals also noted that they felt better about themselves and their injury.
OTs use a variety of different assessments when looking at areas to work on with a client. After reviewing the assessments that 10 different OTs used with children and adolescents with ABIs, researchers concluded that OTs use assessments that reflect activity and participation in life (Dunford, Bannigan and Wales, 2013). This finding shows that OTs are evidence based and have a direct application to everyday life.
Another study identified what areas people with an ABI found hard post-injury. Research showed that 82% of patients found tasks such as recreation, education, work, home maintenance and voluntary work very hard post-injury. 68% of patients also found communicating, reading, computer use and driving very difficult as well (Wagener and Kreiger, 2019). These identified areas are all areas in which an OT can help with, further stamping how important their input in rehabilitation is.
OTs should get involved from the start of the client's rehabilitation. Harris et al., (2019) compared an OTs input at the start of rehabilitation and an OTs input after client evaluation. Results from the study showed that an OTs input at the start of rehabilitation aided the evaluation of the client which improved the identification of performance patterns and skills.
OTs and Me
I have worked with a variety of different OTs in neurorehabilitation. OTs all seem to be a little different in their approach. I have found that when the OT sees the client more, the outcomes are a lot better. I have read assessments from OTs and love that they are evidence based. They use good scoring systems to objectively measure where a client is at and what they can work on.
I have seen first-hand how an OT helps a client by improving their quality of life. A lot of the things that OTs work on have knock-on effects to other areas. For example, when an OT helps a client get a job, this then effects their communication and gives them a purpose which then also influences their mental and physical health.
Personally, when considering my role within the MDT, an OT is my favourite teammate. I find working an OT incredibly facilitating as they allow me to be creative about the way I may help a client become more active. I bounce off of an OTs input as we share common goals and can work on them together. For example, if I am working on healthy eating, I can work with an OT to promote daily living skills and become healthier.
The role of an OT is paramount to someone's rehabilitation. OTs are also evidence based and have a lot of evidence supporting their input with clients. They not only have a knock-on effect to other goals of professionals, but they directly make a difference to someone's life. I love working with OTs and fully support their input in the world of neurorehabilitation.