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A Closer Look: Occupational Therapy

What is occupational therapy?

Occupational therapy encompasses a large variety of different treatment techniques and helps patients regain functionality in everyday activities by improving their motor skills, balance and coordination. For adults this could be driving, making dinner or even moving around their house. For children, this could be playing or learning. OTs (occupational therapists) must pass the national exam administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy.

How is this different than physical therapy?

Occupational therapy may seem very similar to physical therapy, and they do share a lot of similarities. The main difference between the two is that occupational therapy focuses on functional, occupation-based tasks (like dressing, working, playing) whereas physical therapy may focus more on gross motor tasks like walking, running, and balance. Occupational therapy also focuses on fine motor skills that can help your quality of daily life.

What can occupational therapy treat?

Occupational therapists can help patients with Parkinson’s disease, ADHD, chronic pain, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, carpal tunnel, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, brain injury, cancer, joint replacement and Alzheimer’s disease. OT also focuses on how to use equipment that can assist them with daily activities if they are no longer able to do it unassisted. OTs can also help patients learn how to move with less or pain or even without pain. OTs help patients learn how to problem solve common issues when their movement is affected.

What can Gunnison Valley Health occupational therapists help me with?

Gunnison Valley Health has several OTs that specialize in Parkinson’s disease treatment. The clinically proven therapy is known as LSVT, or Lee Silverman Voice Treatment therapy. LSVT consists of two aspects – LSVT LOUD and LSVT BIG. LSVT BIG is a form of physical and occupational therapy that helps improve movements needed for daily life. LSVT BIG incorporates physical and occupational therapy to effectively improve movements for any activity, whether small tasks like buttoning a shirt or large tasks like getting up from a chair. As Parkinson’s disease progresses, patients may find themselves using smaller and smaller movements. LSVT BIG helps people relearn the size of their movements, so that they can move in larger, more intentional ways, which makes daily life easier. The earlier the patient starts the treatment the more effective it can be, but the therapy is customized to each patient so they can customize the treatment to your level of illness.

Therapists at Gunnison Valley Health also specialize in hand therapy. Hand therapy can be beneficial for patients who need assistance with any injury in the upper extremities – shoulder, arm, elbow, forearm, wrist and hand. Hand therapy can be used for a variety of things including after surgery, as preventative care, injury treatment, arthritis care and other chronic condition care. OTs can develop a custom exercise program, help with pain management and offer splinting and molding.

Our therapists also specialize in a variety of neurological issues. They are trained to help with stroke care and recovery, vision therapy and treatment of movement disorders. They work with patients to help them regain neurological function to help with their movement and freedom following a brain injury or surgery.

The therapists at GVH are trained in a variety of treatments, no day is the same for any therapist. A therapist may start the day treating a shoulder injury and end the day working with a Parkinson’s disease affected patient. The therapists focus on exercises that patients can recreate at home so that patients can continue their therapy even on days they do not come into the clinic.

No matter what might bring you to our occupational therapists, you can be assured that you will always receive one on one care in a fun, open and inviting environment.