People in need of occupational therapy (OT) include those dealing with chronic conditions and those who have had an injury leaving them disabled. Many people in need of occupational therapy are older. The combination of aging and dealing with conditions and/or injuries that affect mobility and ability can cause a loss of independence and autonomy.
Occupational Therapy & Adaptive Equipment Q & A
1. Who Needs Adaptive Equipment?
Most people older than age 65 are in need of some sort of assistance with activities of daily living (ADL). Just a small assist with activities as simple as rising from or lowering ones-self into a chair can make all the difference in the world to quality of life and feelings of strength and independence.
2. What are ADLs?
When we are capable of performing our ADLs independently with no help at all, we don’t think about it much. Activities of daily living include work activities, leisure activities, communication, comprehension and a wide variety of other everyday occupations.
Adaptive equipment to help with the performance of ADLs may include anything from especially adapted sports equipment to telephone amplifiers, built up eating utensils, emergency call buttons and more.
The definition of adaptive equipment a person might need to perform ADLs is as unique as each individual and the activities he or she wishes to pursue.
3. What Is The Purpose Of Occupational Therapy?
The purpose of OT is to help people stay independent and capable of performing day-to-day tasks, activities and occupations. An occupational therapist is specially trained to evaluate a patient’s abilities and disabilities, devise solutions and suggest, adapt and design equipment to help with challenges in areas such as:
General activities that allow a person to be active in his or her community are also important areas of focus for an occupational therapist. Good OT services can help a person who has lost function due to aging, illness or injury to attain and maintain a rewarding quality of life.
4. What Happens When You Go o an OT Appointment?
Your occupational therapist will talk with you, review your case records and evaluate your needs and wishes. He or she will introduce ready made assistive equipment and may also make plans to adapt and/or design equipment just for you.
He or she will assess your condition or injury and identify areas of ADL that are causing you problems.
Your OT will create a personalized program of exercises and activities to help you gain strength and recover independence.
You will get good suggestions for assistive and adaptive equipment you can use right away, and your OT will continue to think about and add to your possibilities for use of adaptive equipment.
5. Why is OT Necessary?
Good OT helps improve your quality of life by making it possible for you to care for yourself and engage in enjoyable activities. With the right OT counseling, assistive and adaptive equipment, you can attain and maintain control of your life and avoid feeling helpless and powerless.
While you might think it’s sufficient to simply buy a pre-made item of assistive technology, or to come up with your own adaptations, it’s actually very important to see a qualified occupational therapist.
A good OT is an expert in assessing the possibilities and making adaptations that target your individual needs precisely. When you work with an OT, you can take steps to meet your immediate needs to perform ADL while also embarking on a program of therapy that will improve your abilities.
Your OT will assess your abilities and needs on a regular, ongoing basis to help you attain and maintain strength and flexibility while building on and increasing your abilities.
6. What is Adaptive Occupational Therapy Equipment?
Machines, devices and tools that are adapted or designed specifically for you to help with daily tasks are adaptive OT equipment. A good occupational therapist has the knowledge, skills and abilities to adapt everyday items (e.g. cutlery, grooming tools, exercise equipment, etc.) in ways that make it possible for people with mobility and tactile challenges to perform ADL.
7. What is Adaptive Equipment Used For?
Adaptive equipment can help with activities such as toileting, dressing, eating, getting in and out of a vehicle, driving, cooking and much more.
Any item that is needed in everyday life has the potential to become an item of OT adaptive equipment. Adding padding to a pencil or pen, providing a hand loop to hold a pencil, pen or typing tool, building up the handles of work tools, putting hand controls on the steering wheel of a vehicle - all of these and more are examples of creating and using adaptive equipment for occupational therapy.
8. Is Assistive Technology the Same as Adaptive Equipment?
Assistive technology is usually defined as tools that are especially pre-designed to help people with disabilities perform ADL. Examples include mobility devices such as:
…as well as communication equipment, such as:
Pre-made feeding aids, such as:
…are all considered assistive technology.
Adaptive equipment is usually, common, everyday equipment that has been altered especially for a specific person in order to make a particular task possible or easier. It is important to note that items of assistive technology may be adapted to this end.