What is occupational therapy?
Occupational therapy (OT) helps cardiac patients regain self-care skills and adapt activities after surgery so they can be as independent and as safe as possible during their recovery. Occupational therapy at The Cleveland Clinic helps patients reach their highest level of functioning, become self-reliant and build a balanced lifestyle of work and leisure.
How is occupational therapy different from physical therapy and cardiac rehabilitation?
Occupational therapy is designed to help patients perform activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, grooming and more. Physical therapy (PT) focuses on helping patients build strength and improve coordination, balance, endurance, flexibility and mobility. Cardiac rehabilitation is different from OT and PT. Cardiac rehabilitation focuses on helping patients make healthy lifestyle modifications to reduce risk factors for coronary artery disease. Cardiac rehab also includes the development of an exercise program to build physical activity endurance.
What is an occupational therapist?
Occupational therapists (OTs) are professionals who teach cardiac patients how to complete self-care and functional tasks while following sternal precautions to protect their chest incision after surgery. They meet with patients before they go home from the hospital to ensure they are prepared for their recovery at home. OTs perform an assessment and make recommendations based on a patient's home environment, setup and routine activities to increase the patient's overall independence and safety.
An OT can provide information to help patients:
- Make changes to the home or workplace to ensure safety
- Use adaptive equipment or devices to aid with daily activities such as bathing, grooming, dressing, cooking and eating
- Conserve energy while completing daily activities
OTs work with patients while they are engaged in a functional activity (such as self-care or light house work) so they can provide energy conservation techniques, deep breathing exercises, and any activity adaptations that may be needed.
What is adaptive equipment?
A few examples of helpful adaptive devices include a bath stool in the shower or tub, grab bars around the toilet or tub, and long-handled shoehorns and sock grippers. Your OT can show you catalogs that have a wide variety of assistive devices you may order.
How can I receive occupational therapy?
To make an appointment with an occupational therapist, please talk with your physician who can write up an order for OT services. If you feel you can benefit from occupational therapy, do not hesitate to ask your physician for a referral.
How many visits will I need?
Occupational therapy sessions vary, depending on each patient's personal needs. An individualized treatment plan with specific goals is developed after the first appointment, which includes an evaluation and recommendations. The following appointments check your progress and review or expand your program. Many outpatient family health centers offer occupational therapy services in your community.