The Application of Occupational Therapy (OT) for Brain Injury Patients

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A brain injury happens when a person suffers blunt force to the head, which can result in an altered state of consciousness, impairment of cognitive abilities, and limitations to physical functioning. Such an injury can truly impact the entire life of the individual, leaving him or her feeling helpless. After receiving treatment from a primary physician, the patient may work with an occupational therapist to increase the feeling of independence, self-reliance and confidence when performing daily activities. An occupational therapist is a holistic medical professional that strives to create treatment plans which enable the patient to live as fulfilled and joyful life as possible during recovery.


Can an occupational therapist (OT) help a patient with mood swings?

It is fairly common for those recovering from a brain injury to experience changes in emotions, that can rise up quickly and change suddenly. These mood swings may stem from the patient’s irritation over not being able to do the same things he or she used to prior to the injury. For example, a patient may have been able to get dressed quickly before the injury, but now has to ask for help due to using a wheelchair. An occupational therapist can help the patient develop coping mechanisms to deal with these frustrations. An OT may make adjustments to the environment or tasks, so the patient can feel more able to do things without the assistance of others.


What materials may an occupational therapist use for a brain injury patient?

An occupational therapist may recommend a patient uses different types of materials, based on what struggles they have due to the brain injury. For example, a patient that has memory lapses and is forgetful often, may benefit from having a memory notepad, writing in planners, and organizing all the most important things in one place. It is the goal of an occupational therapist to create solutions for areas that the patient is struggling with the most.


What is the overall intention of an occupational therapist (OT)?

Occupational therapists commonly take a holistic approach, where they treat the entire body as a whole. In more standard practices, a doctor may focus solely on the symptoms a patient is experiencing. A holistic medical professional believes that the body and mind are interconnected and that a patient’s mental and social factors should be taken into consideration as well, not just the symptoms. An OT may even talk with close family members, friends, employers and teachers about what their observations are of the patient, to better identify areas that need solutions.


How can a patient cope with being told they are different than before the injury?

Those who love the patient may also be dealing with difficult feelings about the brain injury. Such a condition can change the personality, behavior and abilities of the patient either temporarily or permanently. A trauma therapist Palatine, IL chooses can help the patient learn how to communicate with loved ones about his or her injury that encourages connectedness.


Thank you to our friends and contributors at the Lotus Wellness Center for their insight into brain injuries and therapy.