A major focus of occupational therapy is rehabilitation related to impairments of the upper extremity (i.e., shoulder, elbow, forearm, wrist, hand) Whether in a specialized hand clinic, general rehabilitation clinic, or acute care setting, the role of occupational therapy in upper extremity rehabilitation is to return the client to meaningful participation in his or her daily activities.

BENEFITS OF OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY

Upper extremity disability can result in disruption of many if not all activities of daily living and instrumental activities of daily living. Occupational therapy professionals receive a strong educational component in psychosocial development and pathology. This provides the basis for understanding the impact of upper extremity dysfunction on key daily activities and roles. Course work in mental health gives occupational therapists the skills to evaluate clients’ psychosocial and emotional needs, modify the treatment approach to facilitate compliance  with the rehabilitation program, and promote the best outcome possible. Because of the holistic, client centered approach of occupational therapy, clients are met at their current level of function. The occupational therapist is able to address each client’s priorities, along with his or her pathologies, with activity modifications and compensatory techniques to facilitate performing at his or her greatest level of independence from the start, and at every step of the rehabilitation process. This independence encourages integration of the affected upper extremity as soon as possible, thereby making the journey to maximal function seamless.

Splinting

A custom splint is an orthopedic device for the immobilization or support of an individual body part and is fabricated from thermoplastic material by our occupational therapists with specific training in upper extremity impairments.  Because each patient is different, our therapists also consider the patient’s unique needs and the daily activities in which the patient will engage before fabricating the custom splint.  We then create a custom splint that will facilitate protection or restoration of the anatomical structures, while preserving the patient’s daily performance. 

Vision Therapy

Our occupational therapists conduct an extensive vision evaluation for visual processing deficits as a means of identifying how limitations impact the patient’s daily life.  The evaluations assess the component skills of visual processing from the most basic level of registration of visual input to the next level in the hierarchy, which is visual memory, and finally to visual cognition, which is the highest level of visual skill within the central nervous system.  Our visual screens will identify the functional impairment, link the functional impairment to a visual impairment, and determine the appropriate occupational therapy intervention to treat the specific functional impairment.  Treatment may focus on a restorative approach to improve visual skills, and where the restoration of the underlying skill is not possible; an adaptive treatment approach may be employed to ensure that the patient is able to participate in his or her daily tasks, as fully and as safely as possible.

DORA

Our occupational therapists provide this Driver Off-Road Assessment to examine one’s ability to drive safely, ability to pass an on-road driving assessment by a CDRS (Certified Driving Rehabilitation Specialist), and the individual’s chances of having his/her license revoke and losing independence.  This assessment is beneficial to those individuals who have cognitive, sensory, or musculoskeletal impairments secondary to stroke, traumatic brain injury, or progressive neurodegenerative conditions; or their family members.  Also for those individuals who have concerns about their own driving skills, or those of a family member.  Our occupational therapists will evaluate the individual’s physical, perceptual, cognitive, behavioral, and sensory driving-related skills and abilities, prior to taking an on-road assessment, and screen those individuals who may be unsafe to take an on-road assessment.  This assessment allows us to understand the source of problems the individual may be having with driving, develop a plan of care which involves physical or occupational therapy, targeting areas that can be improved, and allows for the appropriate referral to another discipline, such as hearing, vision, etc. if warranted.