Physiotherapists are the mobility experts. They assist people to gain and maintain their ability to move around their surroundings. Sometimes this requires building strength, flexibility and endurance. Sometimes it involves learning or re-learning movement patterns for rolling over, sitting up, standing up, bending over, walking, climbing, etc. Physiotherapists are experts in teaching people to use mobility aids such as wheelchairs, walking aids and braces. They are also proponents of maintaining fitness and can help people adapt pursuits to maintain health and prevent further illness or disability through exercise.
Occupational therapists are experts in daily task performance. You might be surprised how many factors impact one’s ability to perform these tasks! Many require you to manipulate objects, which is why OT’s often focus on ability to reach and grasp. However, performing daily tasks also requires seeing or feeling the task correctly, remembering and planning so as to accomplish things in a timely manner, and even emotions and coping strategies can impact getting things done! An OT often takes a very practical, goal-oriented approach toward improving independence in daily life.
Speech language pathologists are the communication experts. One of the more obvious disabilities for some stroke and brain injury clients is the loss of the ability to communicate. Speech pathologists work with clients and their loved ones to optimize the client’s ability to get their message out. They may work on speaking, listening, reading, writing, computer access and gesturing. These are all components of communication. Speech pathologists also have expertise in swallowing, as many of the same structures involved in producing speech are involved with eating and swallowing.
Recreation Therapy can seem like fun and games, but it is serious business when it comes to rebuilding a fulfilling life. Recreation therapists take the drudgery of repetitive skill-building and turn it into a purposeful, enriching activity. It is good for the body and good for the soul! Who doesn’t feel proud to be able to contribute a home-cooked meal to their family through participation in community kitchen or to beat their previous yardage in the walking group? Whether it is adapting a previous pastime or participating in something new, clients get a boost to self-esteem from connecting with others and appreciating their talents.