Health Report: April is Occupational Therapy Month

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska During the month of April, the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) celebrates Occupational Therapy Month and the more than 213,000 occupational therapists, occupational therapy assistants, and students who work nationwide to create fuller lives for clients and their families.

From inpatient to outpatient care, occupational therapy covers individualized treatment programs for those who may have suffered an injury, surgery, stroke, or cardiac event. The Fairbanks Memorial Hospital Rehabilitation Services is home to the only outpatient occupational therapy clinic in town.

Allison Hubert is an occupational therapist in the inpatient setting. She spoke about some of the services provided in the department.

"In the setting that I work in we focus on skills related to self-care," said Hubert.

The skills she described are those such as dressing, bathing, toileting, and individualized exercises.

"All the things you, might take advantage of if you were injured or hurt or sick and you might not be able to do on a typical basis," she said.

Nikki Chung works in the other side of occupational therapy in the outpatient setting.

"In the outpatient setting we do specialize a lot in hand therapy, so we do have the only hand therapists in town here, and we do a lot of splinting we take a look at where you are at in the injury at the moment, and we look at what your goals are and work to progress you towards those goals whether that is getting back to work, being able to your typical exercises or things like that,” said Chung.

She works with patients so they are able to go back to work and utilize skills they have learned in therapy at home.

“So typically we get a referral from any sort of physician. They come in and we evaluate them, and from there we make a treatment plan of how we think that we’ll be needing to come and see us and whether that is two times a week, or one time a week or even more than that and we work off what they’re goals are what they want to be able to get back to be able to do again,” said Chung.

The types of patients they see can range from newborns to geriatrics.

“A lot of the different patient types that we see are patients that have had surgery such as a total hip, or total knee surgery, back and neck surgeries. We also work with patients that may have had stokes or have been in a car accidents with fractures and possibly other injuries. Sometimes too it can be our older population that may not necessarily have a lot of endurance or may have some weakness in home and illnesses that are starting to take over. “

She helps patients who may have been deconditioned help them try and regain some of their strength in order to return home. But Hubert also works with a very different type of patient.

“So one of the other areas that I specifically focus in is our nursery and neo-natal intensive care unit for the babies that are pre-term. So as an occupational therapist another thing that I can focus on and that I have experience in is working in the pediatric setting to work on feeding and coordination and endurance as well as developmental skills, reflexes, and help the parents with their transition to home,” said Hubert.

From the hospital to home, the therapist at The Rehabilitation Services work together to find a plan that is tailored to the patients they work with every day.

To learn more about what treatment programs are offered a the Rehabilitation Services you can visit: