My Advice For Someone Considering Occupational Therapy: It Can Help!

I wanted to share the details of what is sure to be less of a scandal (more informational) about what occupational therapy can actually do for you.

According to Wikipedia, an occupational therapist works with a client to help them achieve a fulfilled and satisfied state in life through the use of "purposeful activity or interventions designed to achieve functional outcomes which promote health, prevent injury or disability and which develop, improve, sustain or restore the highest possible level of independence."

I don’t know why but I have always been of the opinion that you had to be working to benefit from occupational therapy. Boy, was I wrong! The textbook definition just doesn’t seem to do this profession justice; therefore, I wanted to expound upon what is so special about OT specialists for those people specifically dealing with the debilitating symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (PD).

Quality of life

Every human being wants a good quality of life, but what does that mean? To a starving child, maybe access to some food or to a community with contaminated water, access to clean water. Even among those people living with PD, you’ll find different interpretations of just what is a good quality of life? One’s expectation will differ from someone newly diagnosed compared with a person with advanced PD. Ask yourself, what is my opinion on quality of life? Could it be disease symptom management or to experience no symptoms at all. For me, just typing this article is proving a challenge. Thank goodness for spell correct!

Let’s dig down a bit. I want you to think about your disease or - in the case that you care for someone with PD - think about changes in your life that have become most bothersome. They don’t have to be physical changes. They can be emotional changes, changes in relationships, behavioral issues, memory problems, or even some that require the assistance of others. Okay-got your list?

What to do

Now that we’ve identified bothersome symptomatic issues associated with PD, the important thing to do (and this is hard) is to tell someone, preferably your doctor. Admitting that some part of your life isn’t what it used to be can be difficult. Perhaps you can no longer drink from a glass without spilling or your driving may be impaired and you are constantly getting pulled over or worse, having multiple accidents. An occupational therapist can help. Maybe these changes are acceptable to you and not bothersome. In your opinion, your quality of life is fine and there isn’t an emergency. That’s okay, but remember to be honest with your doctor when you go in for that 3 month follow up. Let the doctor know of any changes you are experiencing. Here is why.

“How can I help?”

It is already known that PD is a neurologically progressive condition. Our symptoms become worse. I know, I know. There are clinical trials showing slower progression with certain therapies, but I want to focus on the here and now. Any symptom, right now, that causes us pain, discomfort, awkwardness, lack of independence, or exceeds our interpretation of our quality of life stresses the need for change and should be discussed with your doctor. He may or may not recommend OT. My doctor recommends an OT evaluation about once a year. You may not need it, but it’s good to know they are there when you do.

My encounter over the last several months with an occupational therapist has been extremely enlightening. I learned a lot about little idiosyncrasies that were bothersome to me and yet, escaped detection by my neurologist. If it wasn’t for the OT evaluation they might have gone untreated and continued to be a problem. My therapist responded with a few additional tests and made available various therapies, exercises, and tools to adapt and overcome these problems. Some as simple as downloading an app to my phone. My opinion of occupational therapy has changed and it can for you too. By the way, you don’t have to be working for them to help!

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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