June 8, 2016 | 8:00 am | By Pants Up Easy
Sometime in the last 30 years or so, the concept of a “life coach” began to pick up steam. A life coach is just like a personal trainer or football coach – they’re a motivator, a kick in the pants that will follow you around and keep you on track.
An occupational therapist functions in a similar vein. The name is probably confusing – I bet it makes you think of a therapist helping you at your job (your “occupation”). But trust me on this. Occupational therapists are a major help.
What does the “occupational” part mean?
We define “occupation” as a job these days, but the word actually means a couple of things. According to Merriam-Webster, it also means, “an activity that a person spends time doing.” So in essence, an occupational therapist will help you with whatever you spend time doing.
That sound helpful. How is it accomplished?
Well, let’s start with the therapist. The title may not sound that impressive, but these folks usually have an advanced degree of some kind. They’ve also been extensively trained on how to deal with various types of patients. It will help if you think of this occupational therapist as a borderline medical professional (which some will actually be!).
An occupational therapist will work alongside you, evaluating your daily routine and your environment. They’ll be looking for any methods that could make your life easier, help you move around more quickly, and generally simplify the home.
What kind of methods?
They’ll often discuss how furnishings or other items can be moved around, to improve accessibility. They can also point out possible problem areas – perhaps a dip in the flooring that could cause wheelchair difficulties, or a doorway that’s too narrow for a wheelchair to fit through.
Additionally, the therapist will work one-on-one with you so your daily life can be easier. They’ll teach you how to manage pain, stay safe in your chair, and navigate the home in a smart (and secure) manner. But beyond that, an occupational therapist can help you feel like a regular person again. They can investigate peer support groups, recreational teams and other leisure activities that would be appropriate for a wheelchair user.