Maintaining Independence Through Occupational Therapy

I have always been a bit of a klutz and have had difficulty knowing how to use my body effectively. But, physical therapy (PT) taught me how to overcome freezing and improve balance.

However, I still got into awkward positions performing routine tasks and I wasn’t as independent as I wanted to be. Therefore, I requested a referral to see an occupational therapist.

Regaining my abilities

The goals of occupational therapy (OT) focus on all aspects of daily living. Eating, personal care, home maintenance, and more are all included. As a kindergarten teacher, I was impressed with how OT benefited students who struggled with basic tasks due to gross and fine motor deficits.

I was hopeful that occupational therapy could help me strengthen and maintain my independence going forward. After about 6 weeks, I had regained the ability to do many tasks I had previously lost the ability to perform. As a result, my self esteem increased and my frustration levels dropped.

Through OT, I was able to return to independence. My first appointment with my occupational therapist, Megan, consisted of an overall assessment of my strengths and weaknesses. I shared my personal goals as to what I wanted to accomplish - the majority of my issues were due to gross motor challenges as a result of 2 movement disorders.

Breaking down daily tasks

Occupational therapy helped me meet my goals by breaking down each of my daily tasks into simple steps. Megan and I recreated my home layout as much as possible. My husband helped by making many accommodations to our home.

He installed grab bars in all bathrooms, stair climbers inside and outside of the house, and he add a ramp to get to the car. Consequently, it became easier to navigate on my own.

My therapy goals

Below are just a few of the goals I reached as a result of occupational therapy:

  • Picking up items when I don’t have my grabber.
  • Knowing which way to face my walker so I don’t have to back up or get stuck in a corner.
  • Learning how to position my walker and shower chair to be as safe as possible.
  • Being in the right position to retrieve items from shelves.
  • Arranging dresser drawers and folding clothes for easy access. Watch out Marie Kondo! I have my own method.
  • Entering and exiting cars.
  • How to transfer from my wheelchair or seated walker easily.

I am living life well by remaining physically and socially active. I am a useful family and community member and occupational therapy was responsible for allowing me to get there.

Have you tried occupational therapy to help manage your Parkinson's? How did it go? Share your experience in the comment section below!

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