Acute Care Occupational Therapy

An occupational therapist in the  Acute Care Rehab unit helps a woman prepare to brush her teeth.

Occupational therapists evaluate and treat patients who have experienced a sudden decline in their medical, functional, and/or cognitive status after a traumatic event, worsening of a progressive disease, acute onset of a new physiological or psychiatric condition, or a planned surgical procedure. They collaborate with other members of the health care team and play an important role in restoring overall functional performance, preventing additional decline, and coordinating appropriate care during a patient’s hospitalization.

They focus on activities of daily living, all the basic things a person needs to do throughout the day, as well as on the mobility, strength and cognition (thinking, memory, problem-solving) associated with those things. Activities of daily living include bathing, dressing, using the bathroom, and managing medication. Occupational therapists also address the coordination, strength and overall function of the hand and arm.

Occupational Therapy Services

In the acute care setting, occupational therapists contribute to a broad range of services including:
  • Identification of meaningful activities, occupations, and/or patient roles
  • Performance of patient-centered evaluation, intervention, and task modification to facilitate progress towards established goals
  • Evaluation of patient need for orthotics and positioning devices, as well as training in their appropriate use to preserve joint integrity, promote healing, regain function, and maximize independence
  • Training in self-care activities, including education regarding adaptive or durable medical equipment, compensatory strategies, and/or task simplification
  • Complete neuromuscular re-education to improve a patient’s ability to perform meaningful occupations, self-care tasks, functional mobility, home management and community-based tasks
  • Remediation of upper extremity weakness, tone abnormalities, or coordination deficits
  • Evaluation and implementation of intervention strategies to address cognitive and perceptual deficits
  • Patient education in post-surgical orthopedic protocols, including movement precautions, weight-bearing status, and activity limitations during self-care, home management, and functional mobility tasks

Following the completion of a holistic, patient-centered evaluation, occupational therapists aid in discharge planning to ensure patients can successfully transition to home, the community, or the next level of care.

Occupational Therapy for Children and Teens

A pediatric occupational therapist:
  • Evaluates the child’s level of performance in critical developmental areas
  • Performs client-centered evaluation, intervention, and task modification to facilitate progress towards established goals
  • Observes the child’s functioning in the hospital and determines how it may be modified to promote better development
  • Evaluates the child’s need for orthotics and positioning devices, as well as provides training in their appropriate use, to preserve joint integrity, promote healing, regain function, and maximize independence
  • Provides training in self-care activities including education regarding adaptive or durable medical equipment, independence with feeding, dressing, and using the bathroom, and/or compensation strategies
  • Addresses upper extremity weakness, tone abnormalities, or coordination deficits 
  • Provides patient and family education in post-surgical orthopedic protocols, including movement precautions, weight-bearing status, and activity limitations during self-care, home management, and functional mobility tasks
  • Provides recommendations for safe discharge planning and for a child’s transition to next level of care, home services, and/or school-based services

Learn more about rehabilitation therapy services for children and teens »