Prowers Medical Center’s occupational therapist, Jeannie Cooper sometimes gets asked by new patients if she is going to help them get a job, but what she really does is help people live their daily lives more easily after illness, injury or surgery.
“Occupational therapy (OT) is not Occupational Health. It’s therapy that helps people do what they do all day long, from getting dressed to preparing meals, vacuuming the floor and going to the grocery store. It covers the gamut of what humans do on a daily basis,” Cooper said.
People need occupational therapy for a variety of reasons; including injury, stroke, hip or knee surgery, and neurological illnesses such as Parkinson’s Disease. It often occurs after a hospital stay to help people adjust after loss of movement, strength or independence. Occupational therapists work with people in the hospital, through Home Health, and in outpatient rehabilitation.
“After a hospital stay sometimes a patient is not ready to be independent when they go home. That’s where occupational therapy comes in. We make sure patients can adjust to daily demands at home such as taking a shower, preparing a light meal, getting around with a walker, and more,” Cooper said.
After an injury, a person might struggle with tasks such as moving their arms or legs. Their brain is telling them to make certain movements, but the body isn’t able to respond to cues. Sometimes, the brain and body must be retrained to perform simple tasks, like after brain injury or stroke.
“With stroke, we help the body remember what functional movement feels like,” Cooper said.
Cooper customizes treatment according to each individual’s needs. She creates a treatment plan with the patient, outlining goals and giving them tools and training to meet those goals. An occupational therapist strives to help people maintain their independence at home and out in the world.
It’s common for patients to start receiving occupational therapy during their hospital stay where they may take part in the swing bed or rehab program. Once discharged, they may need continued occupational therapy through Home Health or outpatient rehab services, which are also offered at Prowers Medical Center.
“I get to follow them through the whole spectrum of getting better,” Cooper added.
Cooper is grateful for Prowers Medical Center’s dedication to helping therapists and employees gain continuing education. She, along with several physical therapists, recently attended a Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) training—a technique which helps improve neuromuscular function.
“The hospital supports me greatly in receiving continuing education. I take the opportunity to complete continuing education often as it invigorates me to do my job, and keeps me fresh so I can make sure patients get the best care possible,” Cooper said.
Cooper is also a certified lymphedema therapist who offers lymphedema management for all types of patients, including women after breast cancer surgery.
To learn more about occupational therapy at Prowers Medical Center, or to learn more about Jeannie Cooper, OTR/L, visit prowersmedical.com/services/rehabilitation or call (719) 336-6728.