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Occupational therapy: Living life to its fullest


Think of the tasks you need to do each day: brush your teeth, make breakfast, pay bills, do laundry. Life becomes difficult if injury, illness, or other limitations make those tasks difficult or impossible.

Occupational therapists can help people of all ages who struggle with activities of daily life. April is Occupational Therapy Month, so it’s a great time to learn more about how practitioners can help you focus on the things you need and want to do – your goals, activities, and independence.

“OT is much more than just rehabilitation. It is the remaking and reordering of one's life through the doing of purposeful and meaningful activity. By engaging my patients in meaningful and purposeful ‘doing,’ they come to heal the ‘undoing’ of illness, disease, and injury,” said Steve Cabler, occupational therapist at Community HealthCare System in St. Marys.

According to Cabler and to the American Occupational Therapy Association, occupational therapy customizes interventions that target the patients’ impairments or limitations. The goal is to maximize patients’ ability to perform meaningful tasks, also known as occupations. Occupations vary depending on the person. For a child, playtime may be a meaningful occupation, whereas for an elderly person, a meaningful occupation may be something as simple as preparing a meal or doing laundry. The occupational therapist addresses motor, coordination, social, cognitive, or physical limitations that are preventing the patient from performing the task.

“Many people can benefit from occupational therapy,” said Andrea Lutz, director of ancillary services at Community HealthCare System. “We see patients who need hand therapy, patients with mental health issues, or patients recovering from traumatic brain injuries, and much more. We tailor their therapy in a variety of settings to meet their needs,” she said.

A challenging aspect of occupational therapy is that every patient is different.

“Each treatment is individualized. One patient may need strengthening or endurance tasks, and another may need to modify a workplace or learn to use assistive devices,” Lutz said.

Occupational therapy can help with daily living tasks such as dressing, bathing and grooming; Parkinson’s disease training; household activities and returning to independence in laundry, shopping or outdoor activities; finger, hand, or elbow rehabilitation; wheelchair training or modification; stroke rehabilitation; splinting; and more. Occupational therapists also provide encouragement and can help patients regain confidence as well as skills.

Community HealthCare System offers occupational therapy services at clinics in Centralia, Frankfort, Holton, Onaga, and St. Marys. To schedule an appointment, contact Patient Access Services at 785-889-4272, ext. 2102.  

Learn more about Rehabilitation Services at CHCS.

View a flyer about OT services.


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