Occupation Based Interventions in Hand Therapy

Keeping Occupation Based Interventions in Hand Therapy

By: Tristany Hightower

Are your treatments occupation based? Do you tailor your activity choices to fit the needs of each patient? As occupational therapists, we should be specialists in creating goals and interventions that are directed at returning our patients to meaningful occupations. 

Too often, hand therapy can reduce to simple exercises to address the base components of strength, range of motion, sensation, etc. But, without consideration of the end occupational needs of the patient.

Occupations based therapy can include many options that are either readily available in the clinic or easy to acquire.

Buttons can be used to prepare for a return to independent dressing and fine motor coordination.

occupation based

Nuts and bolts from the hardware store will help a mechanic return to coordination and, when used with vision occluded, will improve stereognosis.

Using cooking tools like a spatula or rolling pin will improve IADL return and improve motivation for recovery and HEP activities.

occupation based

Connectors and pipe lengths of PVC can be a fun assembly task for grasp strength and return to work-related tasks.

A 2×6 board with predrilled holes can be used to help a carpenter return to managing power and hand tool to put screws into the holes. 

occupation based

Stamps and paper stock can simulate a craft activity for patients to return to hobby crafts and creative tasks.

occupation based

As OTs and hand therapists, your patients will be much more invested in their care and goals if their care plan focuses on their meaningful occupations.  Include an occupational profile in your evaluations, get to know their work, recreation, and family-based priorities, and shape your activities to reflect the patient’s occupation-based goals.

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