How does occupational therapy help people with multiple sclerosis?
Occupational therapy (OT) can help people with multiple sclerosis stay relatively active in their daily lives. By improving your skills, making recommendations, and providing training using adaptive equipment, occupational therapy might help you perform everyday, functional activities with greater ease, satisfaction, and independence. An occupational therapist can also help individuals who are having difficulty with memory, concentration, organization, or other cognitive issues.
How can occupational therapy help me?
The skills offered by an OT may include strengthening and stretching exercises for the upper body, activities designed to improve coordination, and many other skills specifically tailored to your level of functioning. Occupational therapy at the Mellen Center provides assessment, treatment, and recommendations in the following areas:
- Fatigue management
- Cognitive rehabilitation
- Upper body/lower body weakness
- Home modification
- Cooking and homemaking
- Self-feeding with adaptive utensils
- Workplace adaptations
- Computer modifications
- Bathroom equipment use
- Dressing and grooming aids
- Leisure/hobby skill development
What is cognitive rehabilitation?
A cognitive rehabilitation program can help you in establishing realistic goals and teach you ways to compensate for issues related to memory, concentration and organization, thereby helping you to function more efficiently at work and/or home. While cognitive function cannot be restored, an occupational therapist can help you develop ways to compensate for cognitive deficits at home and work.
The occupational therapist at the Mellen Center may be able to help you if you are having difficulty with:
- Memory — Misplacing keys/glasses, forgetting names, missing appointments
- Attention — Trouble concentrating on reading, work; losing track in conversation; can only perform one task at a time, etc.
- Prioritizing/organizing — Unable to plan/carry out activities, deciding what task to do first, etc.
- Problem solving/reasoning — Money management, balancing checkbook, "figuring things out"
Occupational therapy is an important part of treating a person with MS. Occupational therapists focus on ways to enhance your performance of daily activities at home and at work, including energy management and cognitive rehabilitation.
Risks / Benefits
Why should I have occupational therapy?
Occupational therapy can be very beneficial when symptoms of multiple sclerosis make it difficult for you to perform:
- Activities of daily living —Self-feeding, dressing, bathing, grooming, and toileting
- Home management tasks — Meal prep/cooking, cleaning, laundry
- Work-related tasks — Due to cognitive issues, fatigue, or physical impairment, such as decreased hand function
How can occupational therapy help with fatigue?
An important step in fatigue management is to find out what makes your fatigue worse and what can help to reduce it. An occupational therapist can help you find ways to conserve your energy through strategies to change your household and/or workplace, which can help you maximize your potential without feeling completely exhausted by the end of the day.
If you are experiencing any issues with fatigue, self-care, memory, or concentration, talk with your doctor about an occupational therapy appointment.