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Occupational Therapy

Neuro OT

Introduction

Neurological Occupational Therapists (Neuro OT) work with people living with neurological impairments and specialise in the use of evidence-based treatment techniques to provide opportunities for people to achieve as much independence as possible.

They work closely with other health professionals, for example, neuropsychologists, physiotherapists, speech and language therapist, neuropsychiatrists, nurses and doctors to assist and support people in achieving their goals.

Significant life-changing events, such as a neurological injury or disease, can bring many difficulties with understanding and managing daily activities. Neuro OT’s help people to focus on to regain independence and re-engaging with functional skills.

A neuro OT will assess how neurological conditions affect your capabilities and will provide solutions to help you complete everyday tasks, such as:

  • self-care – including washing, dressing, and eating
  • leisure – including socialising and hobbies
  • providing support and advice for you and your family
  • focusing on improving reduced cognitive functions, such as planning or memory
  • support and advice about well-designed housing, assistive technology or equipment
  • advice and support about getting back to work or study
  • working with case managers and other therapists/specialists

Getting help

There is a rising tide of data that is driving changes in clinical practices and management of brain injury. These changes include GP’s having more awareness and knowledge of plasticity and about the biomechanics and pathophysiological effects of brain injury.

If you have struggled to get support in the past, there is now a much greater understanding of brain injury, and many doctors will refer you to a neuropsychologist for assessment without you needing to take information with you to support your case. Even if you have been dismissed before, go back and speak to your doctor again. Be persistent, no matter how long it has been since your brain injury.

Following assessment, you will be referred to further specialist services, such as occupational therapy. Because this is ‘client-focused’, it is very much driven by your individual needs.

We are aware that some people are unable to access medical services, sometimes because of insurance or financial issues, and for others, because there are no services in their area. Other than the information currently on this site, we hope, in the future, to add on-line medical support services. If you would like us to contact you when this facility is added, please use the form below, and we will get in touch as soon as we have more news.

Working with a Neuro OT

Not everyone can understand their needs or drive their occupational therapy. What is more generally understood is that help is needed. However, many people have no idea where to start because most of us before brain injury are likely to have little awareness of neurological disorder or the processes involved in getting better.

Unless you have previous experience or knowledge that you remember, the chances are that you won’t know which specialist services you need following a brain injury until and unless someone tells you.

Finally, being referred to and receiving help can invoke profound emotional responses of gratitude. Finding someone who not only understands but can support you, can seem like a miracle, especially if you have been walking your path without any acknowledgement for a long time.

Some people think they are okay and refuse to talk about what they are going through. To those on the outside, this can seem like psychological denial, but this isn’t always the case.

Quite oddly, we can see ourselves in much the same ways that others do when they have little understanding. We are aware that we are walking and talking and this can seem like a good thing. That we are struggling with communicating, energy and motivation, are aware that we are often confused or that we are always in trouble for things we don’t get, don’t link in the injured brain as meaning that we need help.

These indicators are just ‘things,’ like labels on jars or packets. The brain itself struggles to personalise the incoming feedback and also to understand what is happening in the inner world.

If this sounds like you then yes, your broken brain does need some help.

When you first start working with an occupational therapist, you might struggle with understanding what they are trying to do. If this is the case for you, then go with it. They aren’t fixing ‘you,’ they are helping your brain to rewire through practice and repetition so that you are better able to manage daily living.

The experience of working with an occupational therapist will be different for everyone. Some people retain self-awareness and are more readily able to understand why they are being helped.

Trust is a huge factor for those with brain injuries and, for most people, just being understood forms this bond. It is essential to be aware that parts of your brain may be unaware that anything is wrong and getting the feedback loop to start working so that you can understand this may take some time.

If your occupational therapist wants to keep working with you, then trust them. Let them help, and at the same time keep in mind this ‘auto-driver’ that thinks it is okay when it isn’t.

An expert objective view of your deficits is the closest thing you have to be able to remain buoyant. If you feel as though you have been treading water since your injury then ‘hang on’ to the life belt offered to you by your Neuro OT – they won’t let you go – but they have to respect your wishes.

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