Occupational Therapy in Home Health Care

As part of a Cheyenne Regional home health care plan, patients may receive occupational therapy from Occupational Therapists (OT) and/or Certified Occupational Therapist Assistants (COTAs).

Occupational therapy is anything a person does during the day to occupy their time, from simple activities of daily living (getting up and taking a shower, getting dressed, going to the bathroom) to the more complex instrumental activities of daily living (cooking, cleaning, and housekeeping).

The role of an occupational therapist is different in every practice setting. As part of our home health care services, OTs strive to help individuals gain the strength, mobility, balance and endurance they need to increase their independence while participating in tasks that are meaningful to them. Additionally, they teach individuals unique adaptations to achieve personal goals and live their lives to the fullest.

We’ve shared some frequently asked questions about the role of occupational therapy in home health care below; please contact us at (307) 633-7000 if there are additional questions we can answer for you!

What’s the difference between occupational therapists and certified occupational therapist assistants?

Occupational therapists (OT) evaluate, assess, create a plan of care and complete a discharge and all documentation required. They generally have a Bachelor’s, Masters or Doctorate degree. In 2007, all OTs were required to obtain a Masters degree; in 2024, all OTs will be required to obtain their Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) degree.

Certified occupational therapy assistants (OTA) provide and guide daily treatment sessions and provide input to the plan of care. They are required to have an associate degree, but some also have a bachelor’s degree.

What are some areas that occupational therapists / certified occupational therapy assistants can specialize in?

At Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, we have OTs and COTAs who specialize in the following treatment modalities:

  • Certified Hand Therapy (CHT)
    • Ultrasound, electrical stimulation, traction, biofeedback, kinesio taping and myofascial cupping)
  • Driving assessments
  • Fall prevention
  • Lymphedema massage

Utilizing these techniques in addition to stretching, strengthening and other inpatient, outpatient and home therapy programs can help individuals recover at a faster rate.

What’s the difference between physical therapy and occupational therapy?

Physical therapy focuses on the body; the muscles, joints, inner ear, vision and balance components needed to successfully walk and complete daily tasks. Occupational therapy focuses on the functional and individual tasks components.

Often times, physical and occupational therapists work as a team when helping individuals to recover.

For example: Physical therapists will help individuals walk or balance better when walking in the grocery store or to the bathroom. Occupational therapists will help individuals to reach for and grasp items in the store, or better manage or manipulate clothing up or down after utilizing the bathroom. Both disciplines discuss safety during these tasks and may make recommendations, such as using a four-wheel walker with a cart and/or using a motorized cart for energy conservation in the grocery store.

In that same bathroom example, a physical therapist may recommend practicing squats or leg exercises for improved balance and independence to get on/off the toilet. The occupational therapist may recommend a grab bar, toilet riser, hygiene aid or other equipment to make the task of toileting easier. 

What happens in an occupational therapy session?

This greatly depends on what the individual finds both meaningful and challenging in their daily routine.

Occupational therapists (OT) may focus on upper body exercises, ergonomic work spaces and proper lifting techniques. They may ask the individual to demonstrate how they complete meaningful routines, such as bathing, dressing, grooming, cooking, cleaning and housekeeping tasks. During this time, the OT is watching for specific body mechanics and patterns. The OT can also observe the individual and provide creative ways for activity modification to either enhance success, endurance or overall engagement in the task. These modifications could be as simple as sitting down to shower or using a sock aid or reacher to complete lower body dressing more independently.

OTs can assist in recommending medical equipment for bathrooms, bedrooms and kitchen, as well as complete power wheel chair assessments.

Additionally, occupational therapists can utilize visual, tactile or verbal cues to improve mobility patterns and strengthen the individual’s muscles, or have individuals participate in visual scanning and cognitive activities to further assess their independence and safety while participating in meaningful daily tasks.