What is occupational therapy?

When it comes to physiotherapy most people have an immediate image on their mind, but when it comes to occupational therapy, they do not know what is behind this discipline, which is so important in rehabilitation.

First of all, occupational therapy focuses on the person’s ability to act and contributes to improving health and increasing the quality of life. The primary aim is to enable people to participate in the activities of daily life and in society again, which was no longer possible due to an accident or illness, for example.

The concrete tasks of an occupational therapist include:

  • Guidance and support in relearning/learning everyday activities in the areas of self-care (such as personal hygiene, mobility, managing personal affairs), productivity (such as work, household, school) and leisure (such as hobbies, social life, recreation).
  • Guidance and support in the training of skills relevant to everyday life (physical, cognitive, emotional and social)
  • Clarification and evaluation of the ability to act in the above-mentioned areas
  • Selection, development and production of splints, aids and adaptations, e.g. of everyday objects, home or workplace
  • Counselling of clients, relatives, employers, etc. with regard to maintaining or improving the ability to act, as well as with regard to health promotion and prevention.

At cereneo, occupational therapy is an integral part of the patients’ daily therapy routine. Stefan Ortmann has been working as an occupational therapist at cereneo since 2021. The tasks of occupational therapy and physiotherapy often overlap in everyday life in the clinic.

How does the daily work of an occupational therapist look like in a clinic?

In most institutions, the focus of therapy sessions tends to be on the upper extremities to improve arm and hand functionality in everyday life, while physiotherapists primarily concentrate on the lower extremities and thus on gait and balance training. At cereneo, we don’t make such a strict distinction. The patient is looked at and treated holistically.

Are there also differences between your work in the clinic and that of a physiotherapist?

The big difference is that the training often revolves around relearning everyday skills and tasks, such as morning hygiene including washing and brushing teeth, but also getting dressed and eating breakfast. We want to give back our patients their independence so they can carry out as many activities as possible without help when they return home.
Psychosocial issues also play an important role in occupational therapy. It is about including the environment, such as the personal living situation and family. In occupational therapy, we therefore also look at the why of a patient’s actions and what effect this has. Patients often isolate themselves because they are afraid of the reactions of their environment. Together we work out strategies to prevent this from happening.

You have already gained a lot of experience as an occupational therapist and have also completed a master’s degree in neurorehabilitation. What do you appreciate about your work here?

In the clinics I worked in before, I dealt with different new technologies. Here at cereneo, we have a variety of state-of-the-art therapy equipment that we can use to restore lost abilities. We also have the privilege of having more time for the individual patient and can therefore address the individual deficits in a much more targeted way than, for example, in a group therapy. To restore as many physical functions as possible is our priority, so a patient gains back independence in everyday life.

What makes your work at cereneo special?

I really appreciate the fact that we are a relatively small clinic and thus the direct and continuous exchange with doctors and other disciplines, which makes the work easier and more effective. You also come into contact with completely different professional groups, also through internal events, because it is very personal and familiar.
Working with an international clientele makes working at cereneo very exciting. And of course, the fantastic location directly on the lake is unbeatable.

How do you work together as a team?

I like to think of us as a team of rehabilitation therapists who look at the patient as a whole and don’t differentiate between the extremities. We look at the individual needs depending on the clinical picture, because at the end of the day it’s all about the patient’s recovery. Of course, there are areas where the expertise of a physiotherapist or occupational therapist is more in demand.

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