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Occupational Therapy

Our therapists are experts in assessing and creating an individualized treatment program to maximize function in daily activities that has been impacted by physical, neurological, and/or cognitive conditions.  Treatment techniques encompass not just improvement of deficits, but also adaptation and compensation, environmental modification, and caregiver training. 

The ultimate goal is to maximize your ability to function at home, at work, and in your hobbies.  Occupational therapists help our clients live life to the fullest!  

Occupational Therapy services include:

Occupational Therapists are highly skilled in analyzing physical performance in daily living tasks.  Our goal is to help our client’s reach their maximal level of participation and independence in activities they find meaningful.  As your therapist analyzes the way you perform daily tasks, she will be able to recommend alternative ways to complete activities that are difficult for you.  As specific task components are addressed, your therapist may recommend new ways of completing the activity.  This may include the use of adaptive devices designed to compensate for physical limitations. 

Adaptive equipment is designed to assist people in all areas of their life and this equipment can be simple or complex.  For example, a sock aide or a dressing stick may be recommended after a hip replacement to limit the need to bend over while getting dressed in the morning.  A shower chair or grab bar may be recommended to improve safety and independence while bathing to decrease the risk of falls.  Complex needs are met through assistive technology recommendations including visual or voice activated systems for the telephone or computer and touchpad or keyless entry systems for the home. 

Whether limitations are temporary or long term, your occupational therapist will be able to assist you in maintaining your safety and independence allowing you to continue participating in activities you find meaningful.  

Maintaining balance is a complex process that depends on the body’s sensory systems providing information about position in space, the brain’s ability to process this information, and the ability of the muscles and joints to coordinate the movement necessary to maintain balance.  For example, the feet and joints tell us what type of surface we are standing on; flat, uneven, or moving.  Our eyes tell us if the environment is still or moving and the inner ear (vestibular system) tells the brain whether we are upright or leaning, standing still or moving.  Normally these systems work in harmony to maintain our balance as we perform daily tasks without us having to think about them. 

Balance is vital to the successful performance of daily activities such as walking, getting out of bed, moving from sitting to standing, bending over to put on pants and shoes, washing your hair, getting out of a car, driving, and shopping for groceries.  When balance problems develop, they can impact everything we do can and create difficulty with performance of even the simplest tasks.  In addition to increasing the risk of falls, balance disorders can increase fatigue, decrease attention span, and disrupt sleep patterns.

Occupational therapists are trained to address balance disorders and manage their impact on performance of daily living tasks.  This is accomplished through individualized treatment plans to address both physical and environmental issues through use of specific exercises, adaptive equipment for task performance and assessment of the living environment to decrease fall risk.  

Occupational Therapists are specialized in working with patients that utilize wheelchairs as a primary mode of mobility and transportation. Such individuals spend prolonged periods of time sitting in wheelchairs, which may lead to a host of health risks including increased risk of skin breakdown, difficulty breathing or swallowing, interruption in digestion, and musculoskeletal injury due to poor posture. Poor positioning may also limit a person’s ability to socially interact or even perform their daily tasks within their own home environment or in the community.

Occupational Therapists specialize in evaluating and modifying wheelchairs as needed to promote healthy positioning and comfort to maximize each patients’ independence and overall quality of life. They can also educate patients and family/caregivers on adaptations and routines to promote healthy living while utilizing a wheelchair, or make appropriate recommendations for alternative medical equipment.

Occupational Therapists address dysfunction in the upper extremity which includes the shoulder girdle, elbow, forearm, and hand.  Our skilled therapists use soft tissue massage, joint mobilizations, manual therapy techniques, modalities, stretching, range of motion, and strengthening to reduce pain and restore function in daily tasks.   We also work with clients post-operatively to regain function of the arm.   

Occupational Therapists work with patients with all stages of Dementia and/or with patient’s caregivers and family. Patients with Dementia experience problems related to short term memory, problem solving skills, perception and personality changes. Occupational Therapists are specialized in identifying each individuals’ problem areas as well as their strengths in order to facilitate a safe home environment. Services include but are not limiting to:

  • Assessing and adapting home environments
  • Assessing and adapting daily routines
  • Caregiver training
  • Initiating wellness programs

The aim of these services are to maximize patient safety and reduce fall risk in the home. For more information, visit:

http://www.aota.org/about-occupational-therapy/professionals/mh/dementia.aspx

Many times it is not one individual that is affected by a diagnosis or incident but rather a whole family that becomes involved in caring for a family member.  We appreciate how difficult it can be to be the primary caregiver for a loved one or to entrust that loved one’s care to an outside caregiver. The caregiver not only provides physical assist as needed for activities of daily living, but may also need to provide a safe environment with proper equipment, and be able to instruct the family member on task performance. 

It is often easier for a caregiver to perform an entire task for the family member, even if the person is able to physically perform a task by themselves with the proper environmental set up or verbal cueing. There are also many times where a transfer or mobility task could be completed safer, decreasing both fall risk and fear of falling.  Our therapists assess specific tasks in the clinic or home to help determine the best way to increase safety and independence with task performance. We train caregivers, family or otherwise, on the best way to perform transfers, get in/out of bed, perform daily tasks, set up a safe environment, and provide visual, verbal, and touch cues for task performance.  

Energy Conservation: If your independence is limited by fatigue, our therapists will evaluate your daily routine and assist in developing strategies to preserve energy for important tasks, eliminate some tasks and use a minimum amount of effort to perform other tasks.

Joint Protection Training: Our therapists assist clients with rheumatoid arthritis who suffer from pain when completing daily tasks. We educate you on methods to complete those tasks in ways that cause less stress on the joints, whether through use of adaptive tools or by favoring certain joints over others while maintaining proper body mechanics.

Neurological rehabilitation is a multi-disciplinary program offering physical, occupational and speech therapy services to address diseases and disorders of the nervous system. Our team of physical therapists at Virginian Outpatient therapy will provide a comprehensive evaluation and treatment plan to develop and implement strategies for balance retraining, strengthening, gait/walking training, visual and perceptual functioning. We have extensive expertise working with individuals after a stroke, and persons with Parkinson ’s disease, Multiple Systems Atrophy (MSA), Progressive Supra-nuclear Palsy (PSP), Dementia with Lewy Bodies, Alzheimer’s Disease, and multiple sclerosis (MS).

Parkinson’s Disease is a neurodegenerative condition related to the body’s ability to maintain and use dopamine, an important neurotransmitter in the brain.  The disease course is highly variable but multiple scientific studies, with more coming out every year, strongly support targeted exercise as the one means of affecting the course of the disease process.  Intervention by Physical Therapists trained in neurorehabilitative techniques has been shown to be effective at all stages of the disease process – from diagnosis throughout the life span – in improving movement and quality of life.

This wealth of research is hinged on the power of neuroplasticity – the ability of the brain to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections.  Key to this approach is the Physical Therapist performing a comprehensive evaluation to target deficits, and then treating with the correct dose of exercise to make these gains possible.

The Virginian has developed a Parkinson’s Rehab Team, led by staff members in all disciplines who attended the National Parkinson’s Foundation “Allied Team Training”.  We truly employ a team approach.  When you call our practice, after the Office Manager takes the usual insurance information, one of our team members will talk with you to determine your specific needs and any problems you may be having.  This helps us to pinpoint what services may be the most effective in helping you reach your specific goals.  We also work with you to develop specific programs tailored to you to maintain gains made in therapy, after the course of treatment is completed.  We host many Parkinson-specific group exercise classes here at our facility, partnering with the Parkinson Foundation of the National Capital Area.  Also recommended is scheduled follow ups for determining if any changes are needed to your program, to keep you engaged and working on any problems that need addressed.  We are your partner in fighting PD!

Three Physical Therapists and three Physical Therapy Assistants on our staff have advanced specialty training in treating Parkinson’s Disease.  The approach of our team of specialists is something you will not find in a typical outpatient practice!  For more information on our Parkinson’s Rehab Team, visit our PD team website at www.parkinsonrehabva.org Please also see other helpful links for information under resources on this site.

LSVT BIG is an intensive, amplitude based focused Physical and Occupational Therapy approach developed from principles of the effective Parkinson’s specific speech treatment LSVT LOUD.  These programs have been developed and scientifically researched over the past 25 years with funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Research on LSVT BIG has documented improved ratings on tests of motor functioning in people with Parkinson’s Disease following treatment including:

  • Faster walking with bigger steps
  • Improved balance
  • Increased trunk rotation/less trunk stiffness
  • Improvements in activities of daily living (ADLs) such as rolling over and getting out of bed, and getting dressed more efficiently

LSVT BIG is a standardized treatment protocol which is customized to the unique goals of each client.  The program is adapted and progressed to meet each client’s individual needs across the range of disease severity and specific mobility problems.

The standardized program consists of:

  1. 16 total sessions: 4 consecutive days a week for 4 weeks
  2. Individual 1 hour sessions with the therapist
  3. Daily home exercises/ “homework practice”
  4. Daily specific functional task to perform “carryover exercises”

The Virginian has 3 PTs, 3 PTAs, and 3 OTs who are certified in this method of treatment.  Only certified therapists can render the program.

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