The goal of occupational therapy is to develop motor skills, especially the fine motor functions of the upper extremities.
Occupational therapy is a powerful tool for the rehabilitation of patients with cerebral palsy
Occupational therapy, also called ergotherapy (from the Latin “ergon” – work), is an integral part of the rehabilitation of patients with cerebral palsy. The goal of occupational therapy sessions is to develop motor skills, in particular the fine motor functions of the upper extremities; adaptation to the living conditions of society; the formation of skills in dressing and putting on shoes, using appliances and tools, and basic self-care.
Ergotherapy in cerebral palsy prevents the aggravation of functional disorders and helps restore the body’s vital functions. During sessions, the patient’s psyche and nervous system adapt to their environment. The child’s awareness of himself or herself as a part of society emerges and is reinforced. The individual’s desire to integrate into society is stimulated.
Regular occupational therapy activities increase the degree of the patient’s independence in everyday life. With the proper persistence in the labor therapy, it is possible to form in a patient with cerebral palsy a full set of skills of self-care and hygienic self-care.
The most important result of occupational therapy is to teach the patient to organize his or her own leisure time. Children who attend interesting and varied occupational therapy classes create an aesthetic perception of the environment, and enjoy creative activities. In the future, the skills acquired in occupational therapy can become the basis for a person’s professional orientation.
Ergotherapy is a powerful factor in improving the quality of life of the patient with cerebral palsy, a tool for strengthening health, a weapon in the fight against functional disorders, and an effective method for the rehabilitation of patients with neurological illnesses.
Occupational therapy assessment
Occupational therapy assessment is a medical examination of a cerebral palsy patient, the purpose of which is to determine the patient’s level of ability to work and the possible extent of restoration of vital functions. The occupational therapy assessment precedes the preparation of a treatment plan, and at the end of the course of treatment, it makes it possible to evaluate the results achieved and to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the implemented plan.
The assessment of a cerebral palsy patient includes:
- Initial determination of the nature of the motor function disorder;
- Identification of the degree of functional insufficiency;
- setting goals for the effectiveness of rehabilitation procedures;
- selection of techniques and treatment planning;
- Regular monitoring of the patient’s condition and correction of the treatment plan in order to achieve the best possible effect;
- Studying the level of physical activity and the degree of improvement in the patient’s motor functions at the end of the occupational therapy course;
- assessing the overall condition of a cerebral palsy patient, making recommendations for the future and forming an action plan for further rehabilitation of the child.
The high reliability of an occupational therapy assessment is achieved by at least threefold evaluation of the patient’s condition – at the introductory stage of treatment, in the middle of the course, and after the end of the course.
Teaching occupational therapy techniques to parents of a child with cerebral palsy
An important factor in the success of the labor therapy treatment of patients with cerebral palsy is continuity of exercises and consistency of efforts in the development of the body’s motor functions.
Since a child’s stay in a treatment facility is limited in time, rehabilitation specialists consider it their duty to teach the patient’s parents the techniques and methods of occupational therapy. The parents (or accompanying persons) of the patient are trained during occupational therapy sessions with the child.
It is recommended to begin occupational therapy under parental supervision as early as possible. In the preschool and early school age group, the exercises are conducted in the form of games. Simple and fun games help children master the skills of dressing independently, use of cutlery, and minimal self-care.
Older children are offered mastery of craft skills, handicraft and applied art techniques. With sufficient development of fine motor skills of the upper extremities, attention should be paid to teaching the use of household devices and appliances.
Continuity and consistency of home occupational therapy is the key to successful rehabilitation of children with cerebral palsy.
Content of occupational therapy sessions
During the initial stage of occupational therapy, preference is given to games which give children the opportunity to tactually distinguish the shape of objects, the temperature of materials, roughness, softness and other physical properties of toys.
In the future, lessons become more difficult and their main goal is to develop coordination of movements, large and fine motor skills. Among other things, patients are offered buttoning and lacing – at first on special stands, then on clothes and shoes.
A special emphasis in home occupational therapy sessions is placed on the acquisition of hygienic skills.
The interest of the child and the degree of his or her enthusiasm for the exercises offered are taken into account when drawing up a lesson plan.