What is occupational therapy?
Occupational therapy aims to help people who have difficulty with their everyday work, home or leisure activities because of illness or disability. Some occupational therapists (OTs) have specialist knowledge in dealing with problems caused by arthritis and related conditions, and they’ll work with you to find solutions to these difficulties, allowing you to carry on independently with your daily activities.
Occupational therapy can help you manage your arthritis in a number of ways:
- advice on using your joints without straining them
- splints to support your joints while working or resting
- recommendations on gadgets and equipment to help you with tasks at home and work
- exercises to improve hand and wrist movements and grip
- advice on planning and balancing daily activities with rest to reduce tiredness (fatigue)
- help and advice on driving and mobility problems
- relaxation techniques
- help and advice on coping physically and emotionally with the changes your condition may bring.
Occupational therapists may work within the NHS, Social Services departments, charities or in private practice. Your GP, consultant or specialist nurse may refer you to an occupational therapist, or you can ask to see someone if you feel it would be helpful. In some cases, you may be referred to a specialist hand therapist who’ll be able to offer similar help and advice.
If you’re having trouble managing at home, you can ask Social Services to put you in touch with an occupational therapist. They’ll probably see you in your own home.