Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapy2018-07-25T15:39:08+00:00

Occupational therapy works with people of all ages who need help achieving independence in their “occupations” of self-care, work and play/leisure when they are impacted by disease or physical, social or emotional problems. Occupational therapists use exercise, training in adaptive equipment, work and self-care skills, splinting and brace, hands-on manual therapy skills, education, and modalities such as electrical stimulation and ultrasound to assist their clients. Occupational therapists function as part of a multi-disciplinary team, working with physicians, nurses, social workers, teachers, employers, and other therapists to help patients reach their goals and maximum independence.

Our therapists are trained to work with patients after hand surgery, injury at work or home causing musculoskeletal pain, stroke, brain injury, and other neurological conditions, after falls and concussions, when dealing with lymphedema after cancer treatment or edema from venous insufficiency, and when skin breakdown has occurred. Our pediatric therapist helps children with developmental disorders like Autism and Asperger’s disorder, developmental delay, neurological conditions both acquired and congenital, such as cerebral palsy, and sensory integration problems.

The occupational therapists at Perham Health work in our pediatrics department, with inpatients in the hospital, nursing home, Transitions, outpatients in the Nelsen Therapy center, out in our community with home health care and on-site with local businesses.

Specialized Services

Our hands are so important to our daily functioning we want them better as fast as possible. The occupational therapy professionals at Perham Health have 33 years of combined experience treating all kinds of hand and wrist disorders, from tendonitis and trigger finger to the complicated tendon repairs and fractures. If splinting or bracing is needed, they can provide off-the-shelf or custom make whatever is needed. Our therapists can help you manage the pain, swelling, stiffness, and ultimately recover the mobility and function you need to use your hand.

Some of the conditions we treat include:

Arthritis (osteoarthritis, rheumatoid, CMC)

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Contusions and Crush injuries

Dislocations of fingers and elbow

De Quervain’s disease

Dupuytren’s contracture

Fractures of the fingers, wrist and elbow

Nerve injuries

Post-surgical conditions (tendon repairs, amputations, carpal tunnel release, and others)

Sprains and strains of the elbow, wrist and hand

Tennis and golfer’s elbow

Trigger finger

Graston Technique is a soft tissue mobilization procedure that is used to detect and minimize the presence of buildup of fibrous scar tissue. When an injury occurs in the body, the natural healing process is to create adhesions and scar issue in the soft tissue. This buildup of scar tissue in our muscles, tendons and ligaments may lead to decreases in range of motion, cause pain and dysfunction.

Our therapists use steel instruments to break down scar tissue and increase circulation to soft tissue structures to promote healing. The therapist glides steel instruments on the patient’s skin to identify and treat fibrous tissue. Graston is often paired with exercise to re-align tissue fibers in a more normalized pattern to promote healthy tissue.

Graston Technique is often effective in treatment of tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, cervical sprains and strains, lateral and medial epicondylitis, plantar fasciitis, rotator cuff tendonitis, scar tissue, and more.

Our body has an important function to circulate fluids throughout its structures and remove any impurities it finds in the circulatory system. The system responsible for this filtering is called the lymphatic system. When fluid becomes stagnant in the body tissues, it leads to swelling and increases the risk for bacteria and viruses to grow. Swelling can be classified into edema which is excess fluid trapped in your body’s tissues and lymphedema which is associated with malfunction in the lymphatic system and is characterized by excessive tissue proteins which can lead to fibrosis, which is hardening of the tissue. Lymphedema is progressive, and if untreated, can result in chronic disfigurement, infection, open wounds, and loss of function.

Our certified therapists at Perham Health provide a comprehensive evaluation and treatment program that is individualized to each person’s needs. Treatment may include manual lymphatic drainage massage, compression bandaging, compression garments and exercise programs. The objectives of treatment are to reduce the swelling and to assist in getting patients back to a manageable living and working environment. When therapists are actively trying to reduce the swelling with massage and compression, as well as teaching the patient how to exercise and manage the swelling on their own, patients may be seen for one and a half hours up to four days a week. That period typically lasts for a couple weeks.

The team of occupational, physical and speech therapists at Perham Health have advanced training in treating patients with Parkinson’s disease utilizing the LSVT BIG & LOUD program. Parkinson’s disease is a chronic progressive disorder of the brain that affects people by inhibiting their ability to use their muscles normally.  This leads to tremors, rigidity, slower walking with shortened steps and an increased fall risk, poor posture which is typically accompanied by aches and pains, and difficulty speaking with appropriate volume or enunciating words.

The LSVT BIG program was developed to help people with Parkinson’s disease improve strength, balance, coordination, and energy.  It is a well-researched program that has shown to be effective in many cases to slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease and improve quality of life through increased ability to walk, move, and return to favorite activities. People who participate in the BIG program will be provided with a list of daily home exercises, as well as guided through these exercises and other activities by a therapist in order to achieve their particular goals.  If there is something in particular a patient would like to work on, the therapist will break down the activity and work through it with them to improve the patient’s ability to complete that activity.

Parkinson’s disease may affect a patient’s speech as well, causing difficulty speaking at normal volumes due to weakened muscles, difficulty finding the right words, and difficulty articulating speech clearly. The LSVT LOUD program is an effective speech treatment designed to stimulate the muscles of the voice box and speech mechanisms through a systematic hierarchy of exercises to maximize speech intelligibility. Treatments have been shown to improve vocal loudness, intonation, and voice quality, with improvements maintained for up to two years after treatment. It is not simply training people to shout or yell; treatment uses loudness training to bring the voice to an improved healthy vocal loudness without straining.

Participants in the program come to therapy four days a week for four weeks.  Therapy sessions are typically 45-60 minutes in length.  Once the four weeks are completed, the patient will continue the exercises at home.  Parkinson’s disease causes progressive degeneration of the brain and thus limits a person more and more as they age.  For this reason, patients return to therapy every 6-12 months for a “check-up,” and if the patient has declined, therapy can resume.

Myofascial Release is a specialized soft tissue stretching technique used to treat patients with a variety of problems by releasing the tightness in the fascia – a thin tissue that covers all the organs, bones, nerves, muscles and tissues in the body. When an injury occurs from trauma, overuse, or even positioning, the fascia becomes short and tight. This uneven stress can cause pressure, pain and misalignment of the body.

Perham Health therapists are trained in Myofascial Release and complete a full evaluation to determine where tightness is located in the body. Treatment includes a combination of deep tissue releases and light stretching to the tight area. The therapist waits for the tissue to relax and then increases the stretch. The stretch is guided by feedback the therapist feels from the patient’s body. This tells the therapist how much force to use, the direction of stretch and how long to stretch. The process is repeated until the tissues relax, and then the next area is stretched.

Myofascial Release is a holistic approach to treatment with the main objective to reduce pain, increase function and improve the patient’s quality of life.

The development of a wound to our skin can be a very worrying experience. Sometimes a wound develops secondary to a chronic disease like diabetes or venous insufficiency; other times it comes from prolonged pressure, developing an infection or a surgical incision that will not heal closed. Most people don’t consider seeing a therapist when they develop these wounds, but a skilled therapist with advanced training in wound care can be an important adjunct to the treatments you receive from your medical provider, seeing you more often and providing on-going care between visits with your provider.

Our wound care occupational therapist works with you and your healthcare provider to establish a treatment plan and to make a successful recovery from your wound. The therapist can help with management of the swelling which impairs your skin’s ability to heal itself, through the use of compression and elevation, as well as debridement or cleaning of the wound site and removal of dead tissue to speed healing, providing on-going education and nutritional consultation. Our therapists are trained in the application of the latest wound care dressings, to manage excessive drainage or, if needed, to maintain moisture levels at their optimum.

Of course, maintaining function of the muscles and joints above and below the wound is important as well, and the therapist can help design and progress a program to keep everything working while your skin heals.

If you are struggling with a hard-to-heal wound, ask your provider about seeing a wound care occupational therapist.

Urinary incontinence affects approximately 20 million people in the United States, including somewhere between 26 to 46 percent of women. It is a serious medical condition which can lead to rashes, pressure ulcers, and urinary tract infections. It is a serious psychological stressor, as a source of embarrassment and self-imposed social and physical activity restriction, impaired sexual relationships, impaired emotional and psychological well-being and quality of life.

There are three main types of urinary incontinence: stress urinary incontinence, which is involuntary leakage during exertion or effort, sneezing or coughing; urge urinary incontinence, which is involuntary leakage which occurs during or immediately after a sense of urgency; and finally a mixed type which has features of both.

Our therapists at Perham Health have received advanced training in how to assist patients with managing these conditions through addressing underlying weakness in the pelvic floor muscles and reduced awareness of bladder irritants. The American College of Physicians now strongly recommends pelvic floor muscle training with bladder training as the first-line treatment for women with stress urinary incontinence and mixed type, with a weaker recommendation for women with urgency urinary incontinence. The therapy is more than Kegels. If you suffer from urinary incontinence, ask your medical provider to refer you to our program.

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