Q&A with Jill Garrington, OTR & Lynn O’Connell, COTA

Rehab Services of Memorial Medical Center

garringtono'connell

What does an Occupational Therapist do?

Occupational therapy is a science-driven profession that helps people live life fully by helping prevent or live better with an injury or illness.

At MMC, we specialize in hand, wrist and elbow injuries such as tendon repairs, arthritis and sprains. We also help people who experience difficulty doing their daily functions such as eat, get dressed, work, take care of kids, etc. due to surgery, illness or injury. For example, we may show them special adaptive equipment or different methods to do things. We work hard for our patients to help them retain functional abilities and the normal way of life.

What type of patients do you see?

We serve a broad spectrum of patients from young children with developmental delays and sensory processing problems to adults who have experienced work-related injuries, chronic pain, orthopedic problems (such as hip replacement) and neurologic conditions (such as stroke or a head injury).

When a patient comes to see you, what information should they bring?

Patients should bring a list of medications and other pertinent medical information such as surgeries and tests related to problems you’re coming in for. During our initial visit, you will also be asked how your problem is affecting your daily life, what activities are hard to do, what worsens the problem and what helps.

Patients will also want to bring insurance information. Prior to visiting us, patients need to be referred to us by a medical professional to ensure proper insurance reimbursement.

What are three questions patients should consider asking during their visit?

  • What does this diagnosis mean? (What is happening and what is causing it?)
  • What can OT do to help me get better?
  • What can I do to make it better now and prevent it from happening again?

What is the largest misconception you think patients have about occupational therapy?

People often times think we’re somehow tied to assisting people in getting a job when in fact we’re very closely aligned with some of the services provided by Physical Therapists. The nice thing about Memorial Medical Center is if someone starts with a Physical Therapist and needs to switch to an Occupational Therapist or vice versa, you can do it all at the same place.

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give patients to improve their overall health?

We’d strongly encourage anyone to make an effort to be in-tune with their body’s needs and what makes it feel better or worse. If you do end up with an injury, address it immediately and be an active participant by asking questions and engaging in the recovery process with your doctor and therapist. Finally, therapy can only do so much so please follow your treatment plan, including exercise suggestions, on a consistent basis.

If folks wanted additional health information about occupational therapy what are some available resources?

www.aota.com is the best spot to learn more about Occupational Therapy.