Occupational therapy helps restore lives

September 23, 2016

This is the second in a four-part series on Mercy Therapy Services in Carthage. Other parts of the series are physical therapy, speech therapy and cardiac rehab.

Not everyone is able to live independently or productively. When that happens, occupational therapy can help them return to satisfying lives.

Sometimes a physical injury or a mental or developmental condition can make seemingly simple tasks difficult. To help overcome these limitations, a doctor may prescribe occupational therapy, one of several types of treatment available at Mercy Therapy Services at Mercy Hospital Carthage on the McCune-Brooks Campus.

Occupational therapy helps patients learn or relearn modifications and techniques to ensure or promote maximum independence throughout all life stages. That might include bathing, dressing, eating, work around the house like cooking and cleaning, play skills or return-to-work skills. Mercy Carthage has a staff of licensed occupational therapists to help patients of all ages develop and maintain life and work skills.

“People take performing simple tasks for granted. When we lose that ability, it’s hugely impactful and can be embarrassing and depressing,” said Molly Cobb, a registered and licensed occupational therapist for Mercy Therapy Services. “Occupational therapy helps people get their lives back.”

Sondra Rauls, a certified occupational therapy assistant, also is part of the Mercy Carthage team. Together, she and Cobb provide treatment for patients of all ages:

  • Suffering from mental or physical impairments
  • Who are recovering and returning to work after an injury
  • Who have experienced sudden, serious health conditions such as a stroke, a heart attack, a brain injury or an amputation
  • With chronic conditions such as arthritis, multiple sclerosis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Who are living with learning disabilities or developmental delays
  • With mental health or behavioral issues, such as Alzheimer's, post-traumatic stress, substance abuse or eating disorders.

With all ages, but especially children, occupational therapists help develop patients’ sensory processing and fine motor skills, such as those with autism, Cobb said.

“For children we work with, we’re looking to make sure they are meeting developmental milestones and are able to do school tasks and to perform play skills,” she said.

While work with pediatric patients often includes aspects of physical and speech therapy, treatment for adults tends to focus more on functional tasks of self-care following an injury or disease diagnosis such as Parkinson’s. Occupational therapy for outpatients or hospital patients often involves hand and arm injuries or limitations, whereas physical therapy more often involves the back and legs.

Evaluation and assessments will determine treatment. For adults, that would include determining hand strength and motion, as well as trouble with self-care skills and daily tasks.

“Our goal,” Cobb said, “is that they will be able to do the tasks they need to do and want to do as independently and safely as they can.”

Mercy Therapy Services at Mercy Hospital Carthage on the McCune-Brooks Campus, 3125 Dr. Russell Smith Way, can be reached at 417-359-1910.