Occupational therapists play a key role with patients recovering from hand
surgery. Specialists, such as hand surgeons or plastic surgeons, often will
refer their patients to occupational therapy for fabrication and fitting of
customized splints for the upper extremities. Occupational therapists teach
patients how to control swelling following surgery and provide instruction
in home exercise programs to ensure patients return to independent
functioning. If necessary, occupational therapists teach self-care
techniques, such as one-handed techniques to compensate for the inability
to use an extremity. They also help plan post-hospital care if further
occupational therapy is required.
Joint Replacement and Reconstruction Rehabilitation
Occupational therapists are key members of the orthopedic treatment team
for patients undergoing joint replacement and/or joint reconstruction
rehabilitation. Following surgery, occupational therapists provide patients
with training in activities of daily living such as how to independently
put pants and socks on while avoiding certain positions.
Spine surgeons refer patients for occupational therapy following spinal
surgery such as back surgery. The occupational therapist's primary role is
to teach patients the proper way to bathe and dress themselves. Some
patients may have pain or weakness after surgery and need to be instructed
in the use of adaptive equipment. The occupational therapist also teaches
patients how to put on and take off custom back braces.