Stroke, or a neuro-vascular accident (NVA), is a debilitating condition that can cause temporary to permanent paralysis to one side (or more) of the body. It can also affect one’s balance, vision, memory, speech, and cognition, and even cause other complications such as muscle spasm and pain.
It’s because of reasons like these that stroke survivors have a lot of difficulties with performing their daily routine and activities (we call these activities “occupations”) across multiple areas:
- Mobility: getting out of bed, getting around in the house for these occupations etc
- Daily Living Activities: bathing, dressing, cooking, eating etc
- Roles: being a parent, spouse, employee etc
What Outpatient Stroke Occupational Therapy Is
What Occupational Therapists (OT) does is that they address the physical, cognitive (mental) and psycho-social/emotional challenges that is brought about due to stroke, and stroke occupational therapists can help stroke survivors engage in the activities that is not only activities that is meaningful to them but also activities they need to do.
Once stroke patients returns home being discharged from the hospital, they need to continue stroke occupational therapy on an outpatient basis. Why do this is because outpatient stroke occupational therapy is much more intensive, integrative and interactive as compared to a pure home therapy – this translates to better clinical outcomes in terms of mobility, daily living activities and roles in their homes. The focus is to bring stroke patients as close as possible to their previous level of function before stroke.
Occupational therapy helps you to relearn skills and activities so that you can lead a full and independent life, which can be things as simple as dressing, bathing, cooking on your own again independently…to more complex activities such as doing your finances, grocery shopping, preparing meals, driving and returning to work.
What the stroke OT will do is to help you set goals, with corresponding smaller “sub-goals” that are more manageable, and build up your abilities and skills and eventually, with outpatient stroke occupational therapy, you will gain as much mobility, function and independence again.
How Outpatient Stroke Occupational Therapy Starts
Occupational therapy begins with an initial assessment that will look at everything that you want and need to do, and identify the requirements (physical, mobility, mental etc) to achieve them. It starts with basic activities of daily living, such as dressing, bathing, eating, medication; if you can do it on your own, if not, who will help you, if your helpers are able to help etc.
Your stroke occupational therapist will also evaluate your hand, wrist, fingers and upper extremity function, looking for any weaknesses, loss of sensation, loss of coordination or loss of fine motor skills.
We will also find out about your daily routines, hobbies, as well as your home environment so that we can better understand how we can help by either modifying your home to suit you, or levelling up your skills and abilities to suit the home, or both. If you had been working before you had a stroke, we’d like to be able to get you back to your work. If that’s not possible, we’ll try to either modify your previous job for it to suit you, or work with you on skills so that you can get and excel at a different job.
During therapy, we may be working on a physical level of training strength, mobility, stability or stamina through exercises or activities; or we may be training activities-completion by breaking down activities into their sub-components – it all depends on the stroke OT, as well as your tolerance level.
We’ll work with you to get you as close to function before stroke as we can.