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An Interview With An Occupational Therapist

A high school student's interview with her mother, a graduate student studying occupational therapy at Mercy College.

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While a physical therapist can help someone to relearn how to move, an occupational therapist helps someone apply that movement they learned to their everyday life. For example, an occupational therapist (OT) will help their patient to write or even put on clothes, basic skills that can be lost after serious accidents. When working with the elderly, an occupational therapist might help them with their mobility and daily tasks. Through activities like drawing or exercise an OT can help someone be able to get around and do things easier.

I spoke with an OT about what they do to help elderly people prevent falls. She believes that identifying what fall risks are present for a person is the first step. Someone with balance issues should be treated in a different manner than someone with weak bones. Second step is assessing the surroundings. Modifying the home can make senior citizens much safer and feel more confident that falls won’t occur.

Educating about fall risks and how to avoid falls is also a necessity. Teaching visually impaired people to get to know their environment could greatly reduce their chances of injury.

The OT suggests that having a roommate or live-in nurse also makes seniors safer. Having someone there to call 911 is always a boost in safety. Owning devices like Life Alert or stairlift are a good alternative to flatmates.

Depending on the person’s needs, she recommends different exercises. For stroke victims, exercises could help strengthen them, while a patient with severe brain injury may not benefit from these exercises. This is because their problem is not with being able to support themselves, but with recognizing and being aware of their surroundings.

People fall for many reasons, and there is not just one solution. Many programs need to be available, including education and home modification. Preventing falls and making vulnerable people safer is pertinent to a better society and a great world.

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Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Grace!

Thank you for sharing your interview with an OT. There is a lot of insight here. Do you think there is a way to use the knowledge of OT's at scale to prevent falls?

It would be great to see you in the ideas phase -