Evidence for Occupational Therapy’s Effectiveness
Reviewing nine studies with 1,258 participants, people who had a stroke were more independent in basic activities of daily living (feeding, dressing, bathing, toileting and ambulation) and more likely to maintain these abilities if they received treatment from an occupational therapist.
“Gold” level evidence shows that occupational therapy can help people with rheumatoid arthritis to engage in daily chores such as dressing, cooking and cleaning with less pain. Benefits are seen with occupational therapy that includes training, counseling and advice on joint protection.
Occupational therapy was associated with positive functional outcomes (improved FIM™ scores) at discharge for inpatients with MS. Increasing occupational therapy intensity had a positive effect on functional performance in all categories except feeding, with significant correlations in upper extremity dressing and memory.
Occupational therapy intervention results in small to moderate positive effects on outcomes related to patient capacities and abilities, as well as for outcomes related to function during activities and tasks.
“Silver” level evidence shows that early multidisciplinary rehabilitation can improve the outcomes at the level of activity and participation following hip or knee joint replacement.
Authors conclude that early rehabilitation paired with interruption of sedation results in better clinical outcomes at hospital discharge, compared with standard sedation and rehabilitation practices.
Emerging research provides strong support for implementing early mobilization of patients in acute hospital and critical care settings.
Individuals with an organ transplant who received two or more hours of occupational therapy while inpatients in an acute care facility demonstrated significant improvements in FIM scores at discharge from occupational therapy, with a positive correlation between minutes of occupational therapy care and improvements in function. This provides novel, preliminary evidence for the benefit of occupational therapy during the acute care stay of solid organ transplantation.
The results of this controlled, randomized, evidence-based study showed that a standardized program of exercise and relaxation improves physical and emotional breast cancer-related lymphedema symptoms, compared to a control group receiving only health professionals’ recommendations.
Significant benefits for the occupational therapy preventive treatment group were found across various health, function and quality-of-life domains. Because the control groups tended to decline over the study interval, results suggest that preventive health programs based on occupational therapy may mitigate the health risks of older adulthood.
A lifestyle-oriented occupational therapy intervention has beneficial effects for ethnically diverse older people recruited from a wide array of community settings. Because the intervention is cost-effective and is applicable on a wide-scale basis, it has the potential to help reduce health decline and promote well-being in older people.
Among community-living dyads, a non-pharmacologic biobehavioral environmental intervention realigning environmental demands with patient capabilities resulted in better outcomes for intervention dyads at four months and greater perceived caregiver benefits at nine months.
The study found significant improvements in overall quality of life and in two specific areas of daily living (reading and accessing information; emotional well-being) in people with low vision, although the magnitude and clinical significance of the rehabilitation-induced gains were modest.
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