More than 500,000 Americans have strokes each year. Despite the problems that result, many will return to their homes and live independent, productive lives with the skilled help of occupational therapy practitioners.
Problems resulting from a stroke may include temporary or permanent weakness of one side of the body, problems with vision and reading and/or difficulties with memory or speech.
These problems may interfere with your ability to:
- Care for personal needs such as bathing and dressing
- Prepare meals and care for your home
- Move about in the community, drive a car or use public transportation
- Participate in work, educational and leisure activities
During recovery, occupational therapy can help you:
- Learn new ways to manage daily tasks, such as eating, dressing and bathing
- Obtain special equipment to help you function more independently
- Discover ways to increase your physical strength, endurance and mobility
- Compensate for losses of sensation and vision
- Develop the skills necessary to return to work, household tasks and community activities
To increase your independence, the occupational therapist may recommend several lifestyle changes to assist in your rehabilitation, including altering your home to eliminate hazards to walking or using a wheelchair, prescribing special devices or aids that help you perform home and work tasks, teaching new methods of dressing and bathing, and giving you techniques and resources for improving your mobility in the home and community.
Occupational therapy practitioners also work with people recovering from stroke. They teach individuals who have had strokes to cope with disability so they can continue their work and personal lives, manage stress and fatigue and participate fully in family and community life.
The goal of occupational therapy is to help individuals become as independent as possible in daily life. Many people who have experienced strokes are meeting this goal with the help of occupational therapy. Occupational therapy services are available in many hospitals, rehabilitation centers and home health programs.
U.S. Administration on Aging
330 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20201
Call for list of community services for older Americans in your area.
AHA Stroke Connection
American Heart Association
7272 Greenville Avenue
Dallas, TX 75231
National Stroke Association
8480 East Orchard Road, Suite 1000
Englewood, CO 80111
Serves as information referral clearinghouse on stroke.
The American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc.
4720 Montgomery Lane
P.O. Box 31220
Bethesda, MD 20824-1220
Ergonomics, or human factors engineering, is the science of designing or structuring work and the work environment to fit the capabilities of the worker. Good ergonomics help prevent injury and promote health, safety and comfort for employees. The ultimate goal of an ergonomics program is to help people function effectively in a competitive work environment, prevent work-related injuries and the development of chronic medical conditions and help employees return to work after an injury has occurred.
Many can benefit from ergonomics services, especially employers and employees. A proactive approach to the work environment helps prevent injuries, achieves savings for employers in workers' compensation costs, improves the safety and health of employees and increases employee productivity.
Specific services provided by occupational therapists include:
- Identification and elimination of accident and injury risk factors associated with repetition, force, fixed or awkward postures, poorly designed tool handles, heavy loads, distance, vibration, noise, extreme temperatures, poor lighting, psychosocial and other occupational stresses
- Analysis of essential job functions and job descriptions based on job tasks
- Design of post-offer or pre-placement screening tests to determine candidate suitability
- Tool and equipment design and modification
- Education and training on injury prevention, workplace health and safety regulations and the management of job-related stress
- Determination of reasonable accommodations and work-site accessibility according to the Americans with Disabilities Act
- Recommendations on administrative and engineering controls to minimize injury and accident risk factors,
- Consultation related to psychosocial adjustment in the workplace
While ergonomics is a multidisciplinary science, occupational therapy practitioners use their knowledge of the structure and function of the human body, the effects of illness and injury, the components of work and interactions with the work environment to increase a person's involvement in safe and productive work.
Sources: American Stroke Association, National Stroke Association, U.S. Administration on Aging