What is Occupational Therapy?

November 6th-12th is national #otweek2017. I felt this was the appropriate time to share how fantastic my OT's have been since being diagnosed with hEDS in 2014. I expect there are a lot of people who don't know what and how Occupational Therapy can help them with a chronic condition. Everyone knows what a Physiotherapist does but not everyone knows about OT's. They need more recognition for the great work they do, this is an important week to raise awareness.

What is Occupational Therapy?

I am no expert in this field but what I do know is based on personal experience over the years from being a patient. According to the rcot they define what Occupational Therapy is as follows:

Occupational Therapists play a critical role in helping people of all ages overcome the effects of disability caused by illness, ageing or accident so that they can carry out everyday tasks or occupations. An occupational therapist will consider all of the patient’s needs - physical, psychological, social and environmental. This support can make a real difference giving people a renewed sense of purpose, opening up new horizons, and changing the way they feel about the future.

Therapist helping patient with activity

My personal experience of how Occupational Therapy has helped me following my diagnosis

I first met an OT in 2015 on a Pain Management Programme where I would have regular sessions on a one-one basis almost daily, she was fantastic and suggested suitable equipment I could use to help make life easier day to day, pointed out posture problems due to my hypermobility that I needed to be more aware of, looked at how I moved etc. We talked about my Employment and how I needed the right equipment in place to prevent injury. I saw her for 3 weeks while I was an inpatient then after this less regularly for reviews. I learnt so much from these sessions that I could take away and put into practice. She was fantastic.
I had a Community OT come and see me when I was back home who carried out a thorough assessment of all the rooms to assess what equipment they could provide to make life easier for me and my parents. He came out several times to see how things were and whether I needed anything else. He was very different to the hospital OT as they are seeing you regularly and in a different environment. They don't wear a uniform either which seemed strange as I had got used to recognising OT's in the green they wear.
This year after coming out of hospital and into Rehab I had another fantastic OT who assessed my needs and met with me several times to see what equipment I may need when I go home as I was now almost "bed bound" and not able to do simple transfers myself from my bed onto a commode without the assistance of two nurses.

I now have another Community OT who was allocated when I came home from being in rehab who has also been excellent.  

I have been provided with the following equipment from my OT's to make my life more easier:

  • Bath Hoist

  • Raised toilet seat

  • Grab rail

  • Rise recline chair

  • Backfriend

  • Oxford hoist and sling

  • Commode

  • Wheelchair

This is the main equipment they have provided but I am sure there is smaller things as well over the years.

The experience I have had with OT's has been extremely positive, I know this isn't always the case, I have been lucky with my Therapists but you need to work with them as they want the best for you at the end of the day, it is better to be honest if something doesn't feel right as your safety is the most important thing. I always say to my therapist now when something isn't working, as I have been with her for 7 months and have a great relationship.
We have tried so many slings for my hoist to get the right one in the end, I am sure at times she was pulling her hair out over it but she knows how important with my condition it is that I am safe and comfortable.

I think OT's need more recognition for the work they do as a valuable team member and provide an excellent service for patients in hospital and the community to live more independently.

You can self refer to your local adult services for an assessment so no need to wait ages for referrals to be sent from your G.P. this is a great thing and hopefully will not have to wait too long to be assessed.

What has your experience been like with Occupational Therapists? 


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  1. Great post! My daughter is almost finished with her OT degree! I can't wait :)

  2. Thank you Lisa, a great career to go into, best of luck to her

  3. Thank you for sharing this! Really liked reading your experience with OT!
    xoxo Annaleid

  4. So glad you've had such a positive experience with OT. It's different I know, but I had knee surgery a couple years ago and my physical therapist was a-mazing. It made such a difference and it's definitely the only reason I'm able to walk/run still now.

  5. I am so happy about your experience with OT. This is indeed difficult and needs lot of patience and will power and hope. Raising awareness about OT will help the society to a great extent.

  6. It's great to hear about your experience and that it worked out well for you! Good luck with everything :)