Chronic pain can be a debilitating condition that impacts many people, to varying degrees. A person with chronic pain is unable to engage in certain activities, such as staying physically active, engaging in leisure activities, or caring for others. Chronic pain can impact every facet of life. It can affect the person’s ability to work and make friends; go out to eat; be a parent, or enjoy hobbies. Chronic pain can also impact one’s attention and interest. As a result of all of this, anyone can feel that “I am not myself anymore.” Because they are unaware that their pain is to blame, the majority of people who experience these situations, unfortunately, blame themselves.
Research shows that chronic pain affects over 100 million adults in the U.S. every year and that approximately one in five has some form of chronic pain. The prevalence of chronic pain is also increasing rapidly and has almost doubled over the past decade.
Chronic pain can be upsetting and disruptive to daily life, but there is good news: it doesn’t have to be permanent. Individuals who suffer from chronic pain can become active participants in their pain management. Having an experienced health care professional/occupational therapist can be very helpful for individuals who want to learn how to better cope with their pain and improve their quality of life despite having chronic pain. An OT typically focuses on what is important to the person while providing training on the concepts and techniques that can be utilized for better pain management.
How can occupational therapy help with chronic pain?
Occupational therapists can help anyone who experiences chronic pain or other health conditions that limit participation in community activities. OTs can also help people who want to find ways to continue working when their jobs are difficult due to long hours, commuting challenges, or other hardships.
OTs work with clients who have limitations such as injuries or disabilities that limit their ability to perform everyday tasks. For example, a person who has had surgery on their hand may not be able to grasp objects tightly enough to hold them firmly in place while doing another task such as turning a doorknob or buttoning clothing. An occupational therapist would then teach that person how to use their unaffected hand for support while performing these tasks so they could safely complete them independently. Occupational therapists also work with children who have developmental disabilities and adults with mental health conditions like depression or anxiety disorders.
Occupational therapy services include:
- Educating clients about their discomfort and potential internal health issues
- Helping them understand the cycle of chronic pain so they can break it
- Providing education about work and home safety so they can avoid making the problem worse
- Assisting clients in developing appropriate pacing strategies for accomplishing tasks such as completing housework or returning to work or school
- Helping clients develop strategies for coping with flare-ups of chronic pain
An occupational therapist may collaborate with a physician and other healthcare professionals to create an individualized plan of care that includes interventions to increase physical activity and engagement in work roles. An occupational therapist might also help individuals with chronic pain increase their participation in leisure activities and parenting through the effective use of adaptive equipment and other resources.
Occupational therapists may work with patients to develop strategies for:
- Modifying workspaces and/or equipment
- Supporting physical activity and maintaining fitness
- Managing pain and stress levels
- Enhancing self-esteem and quality of life
A big part of what occupational therapists do is help patients modify their environment, which means finding solutions that allow patients to go about their daily lives while reducing certain barriers they may encounter along the way. For example, if a patient has a sore back that makes it difficult for him or her to stand at a sink for long periods, an occupational therapist might recommend a low sink or stool with a foot.
Occupational therapists often use toys, games, and other objects to help people improve their concentration and attention skills. They may also use these tools during therapy sessions for therapeutic activities. They often work with special equipment designed for people who have trouble walking or moving around because of an injury or disability (for example wheelchairs, walkers, and crutches). These tools can help you reach your goals faster.
Occupational therapists are experts on human factors (how we interact with our environment) which is why they make excellent researchers, designers, teachers, consultants, managers, or developers of systems that help people function at work or school, or any other social group. OTs have different specialties. Some work with people who have physical disabilities or learning disabilities, while others specialize in treating people with mental health issues like depression or anxiety. Regardless of their area of expertise, they all have one thing in common: They’re experts at helping people learn new skills that make them feel more confident about their daily lives.
If you are looking for an Occupational Therapist in Connecticut, look no further than Healing Hand Therapy Center. If you are suffering from a debilitating injury and want to recover quickly and effectively, Heather Mogielnicki is here for you. Heather has been treating people with extreme injuries by integrating both science-based therapy and intuitive energy healing.