Hosted By

Sherry L. Pierce
Author of "I'M OK"




Occupational Therapy (OT)
Treating the Brain and Neurological System Post Insult

    Occupational Therapy involves exercise and training to help the stroke patient relearn everyday activities such as eating, drinking and swallowing, dressing, cooking, reading and writing, and toileting. The goal of an occupational therapist is to help the patient become more independent.


To read "Occupational Therapy"
by Eric M. DeYoung

To read "Benefits of OT"
by Amanda Mossholder

Occupational Therapy
Treating the Brain and
Neurological System Post Insult

Eric M. DeYoung

    Occupational Therapy is the art and science of treating the human person. We educate, train, retrain and encourage individuals to perform necessary life tasks as independently as possible. Individuals who may have experienced a stroke, head injury, neurological injury, Orthopedic injury or any complication resulting in their inability to care for themselves or their love ones would benefit from Occupational Therapy.

     Treatment methodologies are comprised of specific activities and tasks that are of interest to the individual. Hobbies and interests are favorable for encouraging the individual to explore their abilities to complete activities they enjoy. The brain and neurological system are placid and moldable. Following an injury or insult to the neurological pathways stemming from the brain and spine and into the muscular system the human body experiences a shock to the systems involved resulting in functional limitations and impairments. The outcome of these impairments is greatly determined through the course of therapeutic recovery. The individual must engage in functional purposeful activities of daily living exciting the neurological systems and encouraging muscular movement patterns. Occupational Therapists are trained to define the most appropriate treatment modalities facilitating the excitability of these neurological systems thus inhibiting deficits and encouraging functionality. Early intervention is detrimental to future function following an injury or illness involving the brain and neurological system.

     Therapy should be objective yet fun. Individuals should have input into their treatment programs and assist the therapist in defining their goals and expectations for recovery. Therapists should be realistic and honest in their outcome projections. Treatment activities should be measurable and achievable for the individual. Small recoveries are realistic such as tying your shoe, brushing your teeth, combing your hair, smiling, speaking clearly, eating, feeding yourself� Frustration and determination are necessary to meet your personal goals, achieve your therapeutic goals and succeed through the challenging days ahead of you. Recovery is not easy and it is stressful. Some days you will want to cry and spit and throw things. That�s alright! Do it, it will make you feel better. Be honest with your feelings and thoughts, discuss with your therapist, family and friends how you are feeling. Your family will be your biggest support throughout your recovery phase. Complete the home programs that your therapist provides you. Healing is every day at all times. The more you move the more information that is sent to your muscles and nerves. Trying to help yourself rather than letting everyone around you do it for you will only delay your progress. Our body and mind learn by doing not by letting it be done for you!

     Get involved, be educated, stay informed and learn. Information is more available now than ever before. The internet is a great resource. Use it to your advantage. Ask your doctor and therapists questions and listen to their response. Neurological recovery is not a guarantee and no physician or therapist should tell you it is. It takes work, dedication, commitment and determination. Ask anyone who has experienced a stroke and they will tell you how hard they had to work each and every day just to move a finger, feed themselves go the bathroom alone and walk without support. If you want it go for it!. Your Occupational Therapist should be a cheerleader and coach for you to succeed. It is possible to gain as much independence as you choose to work towards. Never give up and don�t quit. It is your life, make the choice.

     Early intervention is imperative. The longer you seek professional care the less opportunities you will be provided. The reality is that at some point in the recovery phase you will gain all that you are going to gain. You must utilize resources in the community to assist you long term. You may need inpatient, outpatient and home health care services during recovery and beyond. Independence is the motivator for most persons. Achieving "independence" may be individually defined based on your living situation, financial situation, insurance benefits and medical prognosis. Durable medical equipment and supplies may be necessary to support you in your drive for independence. Use it, don�t be ashamed and don�t be embarrassed. Many people in the world must use a shoe lift, crutches, a walker, a cane and even catheters in order to achieve their goal for independence.

     Are you going to feel depressed, anxious, moody, not yourself�? Yes. Be prepared and seek support. Health psychologists, occupational therapists, physicians, and counselors are trained to support you and to guide you and your family towards the most appropriate alternatives available to you. It is easy to want to give up and many times you will want to. You have to decide for yourself what you are willing to live with and what you want to overcome. Be around positive people; find them they are around you. Be positive yourself and stay strong for your family and children. Many families feel guilty and sorrowful for you and themselves. You are many times the leader even after your injury/illness. People look to you for guidance and reassurance that everything is going to be fine. This is a lot of stress and many people need to follow up with a health care expert in stress management and family support. Your Occupational Therapist should be able to provide you with adequate resources.

Eric M. DeYoung, OTR/L, CES, CFE, CDA, FABDA
CEO & President
SafeWorks HealthCare

Occupational Therapy
Benefits of OT

Amanda Mossholder

Dear Reader,

    I was very honored to be asked by Sherry to write on her web page regarding the benefit of occupational therapy by those who have been affected by a brain injury or stoke. I was Sherry�s occupational therapist during her acute rehab stay and will hopefully be able to inform you of those benefits in this letter.

    As an occupational therapist, my job is to facilitate and educate people how to regain life skills and return to life roles. It is first important to understand that each person that I work with is very unique; they each have had different roles in life, different interest, and now have different physical, mental, and emotional effects from their injury/illness. I need to know about the person as a whole unit, and many times it becomes very personal when I am trying to get to know and understand how the person was functioning prior to the injury. Knowing the person�s history and the deficits incurred from his/her injury, I can begin to help the person on the road to recovery.

    As an occupational therapist I retrain the people how to restore independence with activities for daily living, such as getting dressed, bathing themselves, brushing their own teeth and hair, feeding themselves, etc. For the most part, these were things they were doing before the injury, but now, due to the weakness, decreased endurance, cognitive deficits, and/or visual perceptual problems they are unable to do for themselves. 

    My goal as a therapist is to facilitate/restore function; however, I also educate on compensation techniques and use of adaptive equipment to increase independence with daily living activities. I educate people on how to safely get into the tub again or in the car using equipment as needed to compensate for balance problems. For those people who have a weakness on one side of the body or can�t move an extremity at all, I work with them to understand what has happened and how to incorporate the affected limb into functional use. 

    Whether it be used to help maintain balance at a kitchen counter while standing or using an affected arm as a stabilizer to hold down the tooth paste while you twist off the cap with the unaffected hand. I help people work on their thinking skills and memory so they can return home as independent and safely as possible. And just as important, I educate people�s family or support system on how they can assist the injured person when it is time to return home. I see everyday how important it is for people to have a good support system. 

    When patients leave acute rehab, they may be returning to a home environment where they are not functioning as independently as they were before the brain jury or stroke. They may require physical assistance, but they will definitely need emotional support. These people have been through a life changing event, and they need stability and support to lean on to make it through each day.

    As an occupational therapist I try to make sure patients and their family are very prepared to return home. However, there is more to a person�s world than just returning to there home, and many times further therapy is needed so the person can continue to progress toward independence in the community and back to previous roles, such as working, parenting, church member, volunteer, etc.

    Teamwork between the therapist, patient, and their family is essential. Knowing the person�s goals and the families request, the therapist is able to better facilitate the return to independence with their activities of daily living. Every road to recovery is different, and those people who are determined, work hard, and have a good support system get the most out of their therapy.

    As a therapist in an inpatient rehab program, I urge you to return to see your therapist so they can share in your progress and gains. We don�t often have the opportunity to know or see how well our former patients are doing after they leave inpatient rehab. And oh, was I so happy to hear and see how well Sherry was doing after a 2 year struggle to regain her independence. 

    Sherry has been able to return to her role as a mother of two young boys, and she has taken on some new roles as an author and designer of this web page to help educate others. Congrats, Sherry! And good luck to all of you.

Amanda Mossholder, OTR/L

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