Occupational Therapy Definition

By Julia Guthart OT, CHT

Occupational Therapy Definition

What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational Therapy is essential for recovery for many injuries.

Image of Occupational Therapy.

The quick answer, occupational therapy is named for its use of daily activities, also called “occupations,” which therapists use to help people do the things they need or want to do in daily life. This can include getting dressed, cutting your own food, performing specific work activities, and caring for parents, children, and pets.

In the orthopedic setting, occupational therapists help people recovering from injury or surgery to regain their daily life skills. Because most of what you do daily involves using your hands, occupational therapists are often referred to as hand therapists. Their focus is on rehabilitation from the shoulder to the fingertips, referred to as the upper extremity. Occupational therapists also specialize in splinting that helps with recovery by providing a custom fitting splint that immobilizes the injured area. At JOI, they are also responsible for scanning our custom 3D printed ActivArmor casts.

Many occupational therapists with Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute have received the prestigious credential of Certified Hand Therapist (CHT), meaning they have at least 4,000 hours of direct practice in hand and upper extremity therapy and have passed a comprehensive exam to prove their advanced clinical skills relating to shoulder, arm, and hand rehabilitation. To maintain this certification, they must recertify every five years.

Why should I work with an occupational therapist?

We all value our hands and what we can do with them daily. In most cases, we do not realize how much we use our hands until we sustain an injury. Any loss of function in the hand and arm can have a large impact on daily life. If you were to have an accident or injury, you would want to have the best treatment to reach your maximum recovery potential. This is where your occupational therapist comes in. The hand and arm have a very intricate network of bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, blood vessels, and more. These intricacies require skilled and delicate surgery by talented surgeons when accidents happen. The technical complexity of these kinds of surgeries requires a high level of competence of occupational therapists that treat them, and JOI occupational therapists provide this competence level.

What can you expect from occupational therapy?

  • An initial evaluation, unique to you. This is when you and your therapist create goals for what you want or need to do daily.
  • Customized and creative treatments to help you improve your ability to do your daily “occupations.”
  • Fun! Occupational therapists always find a way to make rehabilitation fun.

What diagnoses could you see an occupational therapist for?

  • Amputations.
  • Fractures/ breaks of the fingers, hand, wrist, forearm, and upper arm.
  • Sprains of the fingers, wrist, elbow, shoulder.
  • Nerve injuries and stroke.
  • Crush injuries.
  • Trigger Finger.
  • Carpal tunnel/release.
  • De Quervain’s tenosynovitis.
  • Dupuytren’s contracture.
  • 1stCMC arthroplasty.
  • Elbow dislocations.
  • Biceps repair.
  • Triceps repair.
  • Frozen Shoulder.
  • Ulnar collateral ligament repair.
  • Rotator cuff repair.
  • Labrum repair.
  • Shoulder bursitis, tendonitis, impingement.
  • Return to work.
  • And more!

So, what is the occupational therapy definition? Occupational therapy is the only profession that helps people in all stages of life.  Schedule an appointment with JOI today to meet one of our occupational therapists and receive expert care.

By: Julia Guthart OT, CHT

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