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The Role of Occupational Therapy in Stroke Rehabilitation
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The Role of Occupational Therapy in Stroke Rehabilitation

October 17, 2019

Stroke affects people in many different ways: physically, cognitively, perceptually and emotionally. Occupational Therapy (OT) provides services to help people recover in more than one of these aspects, thereby making it possible for them to go back to living their life in a way that is as close as possible to the way they lived it before.

L to R: Megan Droog, Rehab Assistant and Nabiha Sharif, Occupational Therapist

Major areas of stroke care covered by Occupational Therapists (OTs) in hospital include:

Upper Extremity and Hand Therapy - OTs use many approaches and treatment methods to facilitate and improve motor control in the affected arm or hand for functionally in daily life.

Cognition - Cognitive assessments are completed to develop treatment plans for patients. A commonly used assessment/screening tool is the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA). Findings of the MoCA along with additional assessments helps develop the treatment plan and provides information about patient safety issues when returning home (taking medications, making meals, remembering appointments, financial responsibilities and safety in driving). This information is essential to establish which areas the patient may need support upon discharge.

Perception - OTs use a number of perceptual assessments in stroke care including: OSOT perceptual assessment, Trail – A +B, Star Cancellation Test, and Line Bisection test. These assessments provide info about safety in walking, using stairs, crossing the street, moving through crowded areas, use of power tools, driving and any other skills that the patient relies on related to job and/or responsibilities at home. Results from both the cognition and perception assessments play a strong role in determining if the patient can continue to drive. There are additional tests that OTs use to assess this area of function. The patient's physician will use the results of these assessments as part of the decision about notifying the MTO and/or sending the patient to a driver's assessment program.

Patient, Family, and Caregiver Education - OTs play an important role in providing information and education about deficits and functional implications to patients, families and caregivers. Family meetings, for example, prepare families to provide appropriate supports to loved ones at home.

Discharge Planning - OTs contribute to discharge planning for patients by providing information from assessments, progression and challenges to the collaborative care team. OTs help people to discharge to the safest and most appropriate place for them at the time of discharge.

Occupational Therapists have a unique role at the HPHA, and play a key role in stroke recovery. It is an honour to work with patients as they find their way to regaining those skills they may have lost, while also finding new ways to achieve their goals for their life and future as a stroke survivor.

A patient completes a scanning worksheet to improve visual / special neglect.