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Occupational therapy helps with basic skills

Occupational therapists ask, “What matters to you?” as opposed to “What’s the matter with you?” People who need assistance with daily living tasks will work with their occupational therapy practitioners to regain skills and get the support they need with physical and cognitive changes.

Occupational therapists specialize in neurology, hand therapy and mental and physical health, and help you regain your strength, mobility and independence. April is Occupational Therapy month.

If you or a loved one suffers from neck and back injuries, shoulder and arm pain, neurological conditions, balance and gait impairments, hand and wrist pain, hip and knee pain, ankle and foot pain, or may need post-surgical rehabilitation, then occupational therapy may just be what the doctor orders for you. There are many out-patient occupational therapy service providers, and you can work with your health care provider and insurance carrier to find the one that suits you and your needs best.

Occupational therapy is aimed at treating patients recovering from injury, surgery or coping with disabilities and chronic illness. Licensed occupational therapists help patients care for themselves and be independent.

Among the things an occupational therapist can do are define motor skills; improve hand-eye coordination; learn or relearn basic tasks; regulate and manage emotions; build range of motion strength; recover sensory integration skills; and overcome cognitive impairments.

Occupational therapy can help patients improve their fine and basic motor skills, strength, dexterity and their range of motion. Small improvements or gains in strength and mobility can make a big difference in completing everyday tasks.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 36 million falls are reported among older adults each year, resulting in more than 32,000 deaths. Each year, about 3 million older adults are treated in emergency departments for a fall injury. One out of every five falls causes an injury, such as broken bones or a head injury.

One in four Americans over the age of 65 have a fall each year and less than half are reported to their doctor. Every 11 seconds, an elderly adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall. Falling once doubles your chances of falling again. Every 19 minutes someone dies from a fall.

One out of five falls causes a serious injury such as broken bones or a head injury and over 800,000 patients a year are hospitalized because of a fall injury, most often because of a head injury or hip fracture. Each year at least 300,000 older people are hospitalized for hip fractures and more than 95 percent of hip fractures are caused by falling, usually by falling sideways.

Additionally, falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries.

Ask your health care provider to evaluate your risk, or that of a loved one, of falling and how enrolling in an occupational therapy program can help strengthen balance, learn techniques to improve mobility, and make your home safer from fall risks.

To Your Health is provided by the staff of Boulder City Hospital. For more information, call 702-293-4111, ext. 576, or visit bchcares.org.

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