In occupational therapy (OT), you adapt work, home duties, and hobbies so you can do them despite pain or mobility issues -- and keep your independence. Take some time to learn about OT, how to get it, and what it might do for you.
How OT Works
Occupational therapy can be a key way of managing chronic pain and stress. OT can:
* Help you identify physical and emotional issues that make pain worse at home, work, or school
* Give you workarounds to make tasks easier to accomplish -- from personal care to housework to hobbies
* Decrease the intensity of your pain -- and maybe lower the amount of pain meds you need
* Teach your family and friends how they can help
How OT Helps
Chronic pain can raise a lot of roadblocks. OT can help you get around them. An occupational therapist may visit your home to identify practical changes like these that may help:
* Replace doorknobs with handles that are easier to open
* Raise toilet seats if bending hurts
* Use gadgets to help you dress, such as long-handled shoe horns, buttoners, and sock-pullers
* Add bars or rails in the bathroom to hold for more stability
OT Reduces Stress
Occupational therapists (OTs) don't only focus on your pain, they also look at you as a whole person. They help with your mind as well as your body.
OT often involves relaxation techniques to help reduce stress and pain. These tools can help you focus your mind on something besides your pain, and that can make a big difference in how you feel.
OT Builds Confidence
Chronic pain can make you feel overwhelmed and powerless. OT helps you learn ways to manage life despite your pain. And that can help you regain confidence and independence.
An occupational therapist may help you break down seemingly impossible tasks into simple, doable steps. Learning how to better manage your day can actually reduce your pain.
What's more, taking an active role in your treatment may -- in itself -- help you feel better and more optimistic.
PT vs. OT
Confused about the difference between occupational therapy and physical therapy?
Physical therapy (PT) helps you regain mobility and move around with the use of targeted exercises. Occupational therapy (OT) helps you maintain functionality, from keeping your job or taking care of your kids to opening cans or zipping zippers. It helps you work around your pain and keep your independence.
OT and PT aren't exclusive. Getting both may help you the most.
If pain interferes with your days, look into OT.
* To find an occupational therapist: Ask your doctor, call a local hospital or medical center, or contact the American Occupational Therapy Association.
* Make sure your insurance will cover OT. Most do. Also ask how many sessions will be covered.
* How often you need OT depends on your needs. Many people get OT once a week. Some only need a few sessions; others benefit from long-term OT.