Occupational Therapists and Driving

It is not unusual for persons aged 75 years old and above to drive their car in the US (or anywhere else for that matter.) Although driving is a complex skill, it may represent freedom, control, and competence.  It may be important economically and socially. However, the ability to drive safely may be affected by changes in physical, mental, and emotional conditions.

Occupational therapists have a role in driver rehabilitation.  AngTherapist.com outlines the main information for professionals from the Older Driver Safety website of the American Occupational Therapy Association.

o       How to Get Started in Driving Rehabilitation 
o       Professional Development

  • Specialty Certification
  • Continuing Education

o       Toolkit for Professionals

  • Adaptive Equipment
  • Web Resources
  • Client Education
  • Tips on Setting Up Referral Pathways
  • Driver Refresher Courses
  • Brochures and Fact Sheets

o       Good Practices Report

  • Articles
  • AOTA Official Document:  Driving and Community Mobility
  • Brochures and Fact Sheets
  • Good Practices Report:  Driving Evaluations and Retraining Programs
  • Bibliography
  • Online Libraries
  • Web Resources
  • Glossary
  • Online Library
  • Web Resources
  • Glossary

o       Join the Driving Listserv (For AOTA members only)
o       Raise Community Awareness
o       Career Opportunities
o       For Physicians and Referrers

For consumers and caregivers, please click here.

Ergonomics and Occupational Therapy

You may want to consider a career in Ergonomics. A typical professional fee for an ergonomic evaluation can range from $75 to $250 per hour, depending on the geographical location of the work site (Opp). Not bad for a day’s work if you’ve got say 3-4 evaluations to do. :)

So what is Ergonomics? According to Jill J. Page, it is …

… the science of matching work environments to fit the physiological, psychological, and cognitive capabilities of the worker.

The Role of OTs in Ergonomics

Occupational therapy practitioners apply their ergonomics expertise in workplace environments ranging from white-collar offices to hospitals to manufacturing plants. “Ergonomics really crosses all aspects of employment,” says Page, from workstation design in an office setting to the physical demands of industrial work. The recommendations that occupational therapy practitioners make in these work environments are equally varied and extensive, and could include advice on minimizing auditory distractions, changing the lighting, or helping a worker organize tasks so that he or she can complete a job with less stress.

One reason occupational therapy practitioners are so qualified to perform ergonomics consultation is that the core of their education is task analysis. “We are taught to break activity down to its very basic nature,” says Page. “We could look at a worker shoveling and break that down into the physical demands of that task, such as standing, stooping, reaching, lifting, and handling.” Post-graduation, occupational therapists specializing in ergonomics usually acquire additional training in the field.

Although adept at breaking down activities, occupational therapy practitioners don’t just reduce everything to its components. “Occupational therapy practitioners are excellent for this type of work because we look at the broader spectrum of the person,” says Page. “We have a holistic approach to addressing the person rather than just a job or process. That helps everybody, from the employer to the individual.”

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4 Workouts to Help Guard Against Getting Osteoporosis

Sara Baker, a licensed physical therapist, discusses how regular resistance exercises, combined with a healthy diet, can help prevent the onset of osteoporosis in both men and women. These exercises, by the way, were not designed for people already diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis.

Here is a rundown of some of the exercises she highlighted in her article:

  • Overhead press
  • Bent-over rows
  • Biceps curl
  • Triceps kick-back
  • You can also add weight-bearing cardiovascular exercise such as walking, jogging, stair-climbing, elliptical machine and dancing to your routine.

    For a more detailed description of the above-mentioned exercises, you can view her article here.

    Sensory Integration: It’s Not Just For Children

    Here is an excerpt of an article written by Renee Watling, PhD, OTR/L, Stefanie Bodison, MA, OTR/L, Diana A. Henry, MS, OTR/L, CWT, and Heather Miller-Kuhaneck, MS, OTR/L, BCP on the use of Sensory Integration not only in pediatrics but also in clients across the life span.

    This article makes a case that because humans are sensory beings and sensation is inherent in all occupations, the sensory integration framework is relevant to occupational therapy practice beyond pediatrics. Further, we propose that all occupational therapy practitioners should seek to understand the relevance of the sensory integration framework for the specific clientele with whom they work, regardless of age. We believe that the sensory integration framework can be a useful lens for interpreting behaviors and a guide for implementing strategies to enhance occupational performance in clients across the life span. To this end, some of the sensory-based experiences that persons may encounter across the life span are discussed, and the relevance of the sensory integration framework is proposed. We have chosen to present this information according to a developmental progression to express how dysfunction in sensory integration can be manifested across the life span.

    Read more »

    Definition of Sensory Integration

    According to A. Jean Ayres, PhD, OTR, who pioneered this theory, …

    Sensory integration is the neurological process that organizes sensations from one’s body and from the environment, and makes it possible to use the body to make adaptive responses within the environment. To do this, the brain must register, select, interpret, compare, and associate sensory information in a flexible, constantly-changing pattern.

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