Excerpt from the
Handbook on the Late Effects of Poliomyelitis for Physicians and Survivors©
Occupational therapy (OT) provides purposeful activities or interventions in order to promote function, health, and wellness and to prevent further injury or disability. The goal is to assist survivors in achieving their maximum level of independence. To be seen by an occupational therapist, a referral by a physician is usually required.
Occupational therapists utilize purposeful, goal-directed activities to evaluate, facilitate, restore, or maintain a person's abilities to function in daily life routines of self-maintenance, work, rest, leisure, and play. Occupational therapists help individuals learn energy conservation, work simplification, time management, and pacing techniques; adaptive self-care techniques; and new skills for problem solving and for coping (see Coping) with needed changes. A home or job site visit, now being done by video in some rural areas, and evaluation may be necessary for the occupational therapist to suggest appropriate modifications to the environment, to recommend equipment, or to describe new ways to perform activities in order to maintain or improve endurance, decrease fatigue or pain, and improve the probability for task/activity completion.
Despite major strength, endurance, and range-of-motion limitations, many polio survivors over the years have developed remarkable and precise procedures to adapt and compensate. Due to the late effects of polio, some of these trusted routines are no longer possible. Therapists and polio survivors must develop a partnership in which there is respect for each other's expertise and ideas (see Communication), and then develop and implement a treatment plan which will assist in modifying the survivor's environment or lifestyle, so an optimal level of functioning and independence can be attained.