Occupational therapy and rehabilitation services are essential to the physical and psychological recovery of many personal injury victims. After a serious slip and fall, motor vehicle accident, work injury or other catastrophic accident that causes severe physical damage, the injured person’s life may be greatly altered. Accident victims often require ongoing medical treatment and rehabilitative care to deal with the effects of injuries. Occupational therapists are on the front line of this important battle.
What is an Occupational Therapist?
An occupational therapist (OT) is a healthcare professional who helps aging, injured and/or disabled patients achieve physical, psychological, and functional goals, thereby improving the patient’s overall quality and enjoyment of life.
Some common services an OT performs include:
- Assessing the impact of injuries on a patient’s life and functional abilities
- Assessing new challenges presented by the injuries
- Developing a plan to restore the client’s pre-injury life roles and activities
- Recommending modifications to work and/or home environments to better accommodate the injured person
- Developing a rehabilitation plan
- Setting goals and monitoring progress
- Addressing the need for pain management, psychological counseling/therapy, domestic assistance, household management, and vocational/educational services
- Preparing reports detailing these needs, services, and recommendations
OTs work closely with their patients and family members, helping the injured person regain their former independence. They offer proven techniques and strategies to accomplish this goal, and tailor them to their patient’s unique needs and circumstances.
Areas of Practice for Occupational Therapists
Occupational therapists are required to obtain a master’s degree in their chosen field of study. They may practice as general OTs or go into specialized areas. Some common areas of practice and specialization are detailed here:
- Rehabilitation and disability – Assist physically injured and impaired individuals with instruction, treatment, aid, therapy, equipment, exercise, and other rehabilitation tools.
- Pediatrics - Help injured and disabled children in home settings, hospitals, clinics, schools, and childcare programs.
- Health and wellness – Promote health and well-being through exercise, weight management, diet, work, education, community activities, and development of a healthy lifestyle.
- Mental health – Develop coping strategies for stress, socializing, money management, substance abuse, and mood disorders.
- Geriatrics – Support and encourage productive aging for the elderly who are experiencing problems with day-to-day tasks, and help with safety and fall-prevention.
- Work, industry and education – Assess vocational and education needs, and help clients obtain necessary services through available avenues.
- Environmental modification – Work with schools, workplaces, communities, and households to modify and adapt these environments for the benefit and assistance of the injured and disabled.
- Feeding, eating, and swallowing – Help patients manage physical impairments to these tasks caused by traumatic brain injury, stroke, and other catastrophic injuries.
The Importance of OTs in Personal Injury
OTs are well-versed in the way injuries impact the lives of accident victims. They understand the physical and psychological challenges the injured party faces, and the journey they are on to recovery or maximum medical improvement.
In addition to the vital role an OT plays in the lives of their patients, they can also play an important role in assessing damages in a personal injury case. Their contribution may include some or all of the following issues:
- Physical impact of the injuries
- Medical expenses
- Need for assisted care or household services
- Vocational and education needs
- Identify needed environmental modifications
An OT can provide crucial services to the injured party, their family and the personal injury attorney. When your lawyer works closely with your OT, this partnership can help your claim. At the Reinartz Law Firm, we understand the essential role that occupational therapists play in the lives of seriously injured people, and we support the important work that they do. Contact our firm today if you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury due to someone else’s negligence.