Occupational Therapy Assistants helping patients regain independence

November 6, 2017

When an illness or injury has occurred, occupational therapists analyze how an individual’s ability to carry out everyday activities has been impacted. This includes carrying out basic tasks like washing and getting dressed to more complex tasks such as making a meal and engaging in leisure pursuits.

At LHSC occupational therapists (OT) and occupational therapist assistants work with patients in nearly every clinical area, from Medicine to Mental Health, and despite the different needs of the patient groups, the focus on function and daily tasks remains the same. 

Justine Hodgson is an occupational therapist assistant (OTA) in Medicine at University Hospital. In her role she carries out the treatment program that an OT has developed based on the assessment and analysis of a patient. This may be dressing, bathing and grooming, or transferring from a bed to a wheelchair.

“We help progress the patient back to their functional baseline, in other words, the level they were functioning at before they came into the hospital,” says Justine.

“We also see patients with arm injuries, specifically for range of motion injuries where they may need help with fine motor task such as grip strength.”

Justine sees an average of eight to 12 patients a day. Most are geriatric patients or bariatric patient, and she sees each patient daily Monday to Friday.

“Occupational therapy helps to progress the patient, after having been bedridden, to do the activities of daily living, so we play an important role in making them stronger, increasing their energy and ability to get back to their usual level of activity as much as possible,” says Justine.

OTAs also monitor and maintain essential equipment such as wheelchairs and cushions essential to promote increased function and independence for our patients.

They are involved in quality improvement initiatives and serve as Infection Safety Champions in their areas.

There are 50 occupational therapists and 11 occupational therapist assistants at LHSC, helping patients regain independence and facilitating their discharges from hospital.