I just had a stroke.

While on the rehab unit, I've already met with a physical therapist and a speech therapist. They've helped me walk again and improve my thinking and swallowing abilities.

Now there is another therapist who wants to help me. What exactly does an occupational therapist do?

There are many definitions for “occupation” but occupational therapists focus on this one; “an activity in which one engages.”

While on rehab after a stroke, an occupational therapist (OT) will assist patients as they regain their independence with daily activities or occupations.

During the first full day on EIRMC's rehab unit, the OT will review the patient's medical chart and visit with them and their family. The OT asks questions about where the patient lives, what they do during the days and what they enjoy doing. In addition, the OT assesses the following:

  • Movement and strength in both arms
  • Patient's vision
  • Patient's fine and gross motor control
  • Patient's sitting balance
  • Patient's ability to stand and move from place to place

The OT may also help stroke patients take a shower and get dressed.

From the information gathered during the day, and patient's  input into what they feel are the most import areas to focus on, the OT will make a specialized plan regarding what the two will be working on during their stay on the rehab unit.

Throughout the patient's treatment sessions on the rehab unit, the OT will use many activities to address the problem areas. The goal of these activities is to improve the patient's independence with daily tasks. As the patient is able to do more, the activities that are completed will increase in difficulty until the patient reaches a point of being near their original level, and ultimately they can return home.

As stroke patients get ready for their discharge home, the OT will make recommendations to the family for modifications to their home. The OT will also discuss follow-up therapy services with the patient and their family for when they return home.

For children, newborn to 18 years of age, EIRMC also offers specialized pediatric occupational therapy services.

For more information on EIRMC's Rehabilitation Unit, please call (208) 529-7677.