Editor’s note: “Need to Know” is a series inspired by common forum questions and comments from readers. Have a comment or question about MS? Visit our forum. This week’s question is inspired by the forum topic “How Occupational Therapy Is Improving My MS Home Life” from April 15, 2018.
Before I was diagnosed with MS, I thought occupational therapy (OT) and its practitioners, occupational therapists (OTs), were resources you seek out in order to improve your job skills.
I mean, the word “occupation” is in there for a reason, right?
Now I know that it’s more than just employment that can warrant the services of an OT.
It’s all about independence
Occupational therapy seeks to assist people in all facets of their lives so they can live more productively and independently.
Its focus is not on the internal physical targets that a physical therapist (PT) might prioritize. For instance, a PT can help you improve the range of motion in your arms and legs.
An OT, however, focuses on “big picture” targets by helping you improve your range of ability to do the activities you both need and want to perform throughout the day.
Aaron Nicka, an OT at Cleveland Clinic’s Mellen Center for MS Treatment, explained it this way for US News & World Report: “Everyone is familiar with physical therapy, which helps you get somewhere. But I want someone to be able to do something when he gets there. Not just walk to the bathroom, but open the medicine cabinet, put toothpaste on a toothbrush and brush teeth.”
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