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What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational Therapists work toward improving an individual's functional independence in life skills.

Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), acquiring adaptive equipment, and training the individual and caregivers in their use to help facilitate these skills are integral parts of occupational therapy.

Occupational Therapists look at not only the skills to perform ADLs, but also at the ability to bring them altogether, in order to be successful in doing those things that are meaningful to our lives. For some of us, this may be limited to taking care of ourselves, for others it may include taking care of someone else, running our home, shopping or engaging in our vocational or leisure activities.

Occupational Therapy benefits patients with a wide range of diagnoses, both neurological and orthopedic, and utilizes a variety of techniques to improve the performance of daily activities.

Treatment for upper extremity dysfunction (reduced use of hands) may include range of motion (ROM), strengthening, coordination exercises and positioning; all with the goal of gaining a return to function. Whatever is important for our patients to do is of concern for the occupational therapist.

Hand Therapy

A hand therapist is an occupational therapist who specializes in treating injuries and conditions affecting the upper extremities, including the hands, wrists, elbows, and shoulders. Hand therapists work closely with physicians as part of an overall treatment plan that provides rehabilitation, wound care, preventative care, post-operative programs, and other related treatments.

A qualified hand therapist can work with both acute and chronic conditions. Acute conditions affecting the upper extremity can include anything from injuries to the fingers to reattached limbs. Burns, fractures, amputations, injured tendons, and damaged nerves can all be successfully treated. Chronic conditions like arthritis and even conditions with a neurological basis, such as loss of function following a stroke, can also be improved with regular hand therapy.

What are the Benefits of Hand Therapy?

  • Possibly avoiding operations and surgeries
  • Drug-free management option for recent or chronic pain
  • Restoring normal nerve function for over-sensitive nerves
  • Regaining the sense of touch after nerve damage
  • Learning simple exercises to improve strength and motility
  • Learning to make splints to prevent or improve temporary stiffness
  • Discovering accommodations and tools to help complete day-to-day activities
  • The ability to return to work with few, if any, restrictions
  • Assisting with recovery when surgery is unavoidable, including wound care, scar and infection prevention, and swelling and pain management

Getting Back to Work

Hand therapists also serve as an advocate for patients looking to return to work. They can work with employers to develop a reasonable accommodation plan and provide guidance on changes that can help the patient (and even other workers) avoid workplace injuries.

Schedule Your Appointment

Call Meridian Hand Therapy Today At (805) 497-1700

Westlake Village & Thousand Oaks Hand Therapy

Discover Our Occupational Therapist Team

Lisa Barry-Gofberg, OTD, OTR/L

Lisa graduated from the University of Notre Dame where she earned a B.S. degree in Science Business. Upon completion, she attended the University of Southern California to pursue her Master's degree in Occupational Therapy. In 2005, she graduated from Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions where she received her Doctor of Occupational Therapy.

Jodi Ramirez, MOT, OTR/L

Jodi graduated from Loma Linda University with a B.S. degree in Occupational Therapy 2000. She returned to Loma Linda University and completed her masters degree in 2002.

Elisa Santizo, MS, OTR/L

Elisa completed her BA in Art from CSU Northridge and worked as a graphic designer before getting her Master’s in Occupational Therapy from Touro University Nevada.

More About Our Therapists