"Occupational therapy provides practical support to empower people to facilitate recovery and overcome barriers preventing them from doing the activities (or occupations) that matter to them. This support increases people's independence and satisfaction in all aspects of life. (Royal College of Occupational Therapists, 2019)
Imagine being able to manage your symptoms yourself, without the need for further medication....
Common physical symptoms include:
Physical limitations (eg due to pain/disability)
Common cognitive and psychological symptoms include:
Worry, stress and anxiety
Feeling loss of independence
Poor sleep, difficulties with concentration or memory
Difficulty accepting help
Loss of motivation and drive
Interventions and treatments
My interventions often focus on:
Ways to manage symptoms (physical and emotional) without additional medicines,
Assessing your environment, to consider practical ideas and solutions to meet your needs,
Identifying and supporting you to return and to participate in meaningful and valued activities.
Looking at Managing Symptoms (without additional medicines)
I use a range of research-based interventions which can help you feel more in control of symptoms.
Fatigue / low energy levels: I look at how fatigue impacts on what you do and what you would like to do. I will provide information and suggest strategies in order to best utilise your energy. This includes (but is not limited to) ideas for prioritising tasks, pacing activities, building rest breaks into your day. I will also consider adapting activities, and possibly ideas for equipment or changing your environment in order to reduce the amount of energy you needed to complete a task.
Breathlessness: Breathlessness is not purely related to bodily changes and how we breathe. The way we think and the way we perform various activities can also have an effect on our breathing. I will look at your breathing, and suggest practical ideas for managing your breathlessness. This could include breathing techniques, positioning, managing your energy levels, and other coping strategies (eg, to reduce fear or stress of living with breathlessness).
Stress and anxiety: Stress and nxiety are extremely common in everyday life, even without the added impact of illness or disease on you and your loved-ones. I will work with you to help problem-solve any causes which can be addressed, and teach you techniques to reduce the impact in your life. This may be ways of managing unhelpful thoughts, relaxation techniques, mindfulness. We can also look at anxieties relating to talking with healthcare professionals or family and friends.
Sleep: I will examine your sleep routine to identify factors to improve your sleep. This can include education about good sleep behaviours, changes to your sleep environment and introducing new routines. Often stress and anxiety play a part in sleep disturbance, and we can explore ideas for managing this, if this is the case.
Pain: Pain can be magnified by poor posture, reduced activity and muscle tension. I can look at positioning, pressure care equipment, guided imagery, and progressive muscle relaxation.
Cognitive and psychological symptoms: I will look at how symptoms such as concentration, memory and mood affect your day-to-day life, and suggest a range of practical ideas, techniques and equipment to support you and your family/carers.
Hypnosis: I am trained in clinical hypnosis which is very effective at managing a number of the above symptoms, including breathlessness, pain, stress and anxiety. Please let me know if you would like to consider this as a treatment option. Where appropriate, I may suggest relaxation, mindfulness or hypnosis to help support any symptom management.
Aids and equipment, environmental changes and adaptations: Sometimes life can become simpler and more comfortable with the addition of some small aids or items of equipment, eg to help you wash, dress or help you around the home. Aids can include small pieces of equipment such as a stool or remote control, or perhaps a wheelchair or walking aid to keep you independent.
Often, even a small change to your environment, such as moving an item to another location, or providing a hand-rail, can make a big impact. Sometimes, a major adaptation, such as a level-access shower will be beneficial. I will suggest ideas if I assess there is a need, or feel they would be helpful.
Skin care and comfort: I will advise if I think you would benefit from any special pressure-care equipment such as a mattress or cushion. This can help reduce or prevent a pressure sore or to make resting more comfortable.
Other treatment interventions
Rehabilitation: Many techniques described above are included in the heading of rehabilitation. I can advise on types of activities and exercises which can help build strength and stamina, to help you reach your best available physical level.
Onward referral: If after assessment or during treatment I consider it would be beneficial for you to receive advice or support from another professional, I will discuss this with you. For example, this could include advice on structural/costing aspects for designing any adaptations, or onward referral for more specialist symptom management.