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Why I became an Occupational Therapist

Information provided on the blog is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or offer treatment plans.

I have often been asked why I chose to become a Hand Therapist.  Usually I respond first with “because I don’t like feet,” but this is not the only reason.

During my Undergraduate prerequisite and Occupational Therapy training, I found that the coursework included not only the obviously important classes in anatomy, kinesiology, and pathophysiology, but also had a large focus on psychology and understanding human development and behavior.  As an Occupational Therapist, I look at what activities or roles are felt to be most important in patients’ lives and help them get back to performing these activities to resume their roles.  I enjoy the challenge of improving physical limitations (stiffness or weakness for example) while using functional tasks (activities that you already enjoy) to motivate you to achieve your maximum recovery.

What does this mean for my patients?  Well, that means I encourage my patients to golf, for example, for their home exercise program.

I just had this discussion with a patient I am treating who had a carpal tunnel release about 6 weeks ago.  He asked me “when can I golf again?”  Taking into account his recent surgery and post-operative plan of care from the doctor and with therapy, we devised a plan that would allow him to begin to resume golfing this weekend.

Why did I choose to have him golf for his home exercise program instead of perform a laundry list of exercises?  Because golf can improve grip and wrist range of motion during the swing and general whole body activity can increase circulation important for healing.  I also know that this man experienced property loss during the recent “super storm” and has been under a great deal of stress.  Being able to participate in golf (although slightly limited at this time) with his wife, may allow this man to resume some activities that he enjoyed prior to surgery and help relieve so stress due to recent events.

So when I asked him after the weekend “how did your homework go?”  He responded first with a smile, and said simply “it was good to get back to some normal life.”

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Stephanie Krueger, OTR/L, CHT

Stephanie specializes in the conservative and post-operative treatment of injuries to the hand, wrist, elbow, and shoulder. She works for OrthoIllinois at the Roxbury rehabilitation center.

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