For a person recovering from injury or stroke or managing a chronic illness, sometimes it’s the little things that can be the most frustrating–from washing their hair to buttoning a shirt. All of those routine tasks that so many of us take for granted are known as Activities of Daily Living or ADL. Retraining in those daily living skills is a key part of any rehab program, and some of the most valuable players in the rehab community are the occupational therapists who are so skilled at helping with the process.
What Are Activities of Daily Living?
Activities of Daily Living include all of those basic activities we engage in to make sure that we survive and are able to function in society. These are the little and not so little things we all need to do to take care of our own bodies. Activities of Daily Living can also simply be called self-care, and they include some of the most important skills for independence–but also some of the most challenging following stroke, injury or illness. Some of the Activities of Daily Living include:
- Bathing and showering
- Toileting and toilet hygiene
- Personal hygiene, including shaving, brushing teeth and hair care
- Functional mobility and getting from place to place in doing daily activities, including getting out of bed and moving around the house
What’s the Goal of Retraining in Daily Living Skills?
The main goal of retraining for Daily Living Skills in a rehab or outpatient setting is restoring independence. When a patient spends time in a short-term rehab program for stroke, injury or illness, the focus is on helping them regain the skills, strength and confidence they need to return home–and to make any adjustments they need to make the process go more smoothly. Occupational therapy is an essential part of making this happen in a high-quality rehab program.
How Can Rehab Help with Retraining in Daily Living Skills?
A top-notch rehabilitation program with skilled occupational therapists can help patients retrain in daily living skills and regain confidence and quality of life.
Some of the key components of occupational therapy for ADL are education, rehabilitation techniques and exercise to re-establish fine motor skills and strength. Occupational therapists also teach patients how to use adaptive tools and equipment to make relearning those daily living skills easier.
Some of the techniques used in occupational therapy for ADL include:
- Making recommendations for changes to be made in your home and equipment needed, including shower bars, non-skid surfaces on stairs and helping patients learn to use new equipment.
- Reteaching basic movements, from getting in and out of bed to getting in and out of the shower or tub.
- Developing an individualized exercise program to boost the fine motor skills needed. Squeezing a ball and using a therapy band.
- Working with patients on actual daily life activities to regain fine motor skills and confidence. This includes activities like opening and closing a tube of toothpaste, working on buttons and zippers, stacking coins and picking up small objects. Repetition so often leads to mastery and increased confidence.
- Doing arts, crafts, cooking and baking–both as a creative release and a fine motor skill booster.
- Playing games like checkers and chess that involve picking up small pieces as well as using mental faculties.
Retraining in Daily Living Skills at Evergreen Health and Rehab
The examples above are just some of the techniques used by occupational therapists to help patients regain daily living skills. At Evergreen Health and Rehab, our professional staff will come up with an individualized occupational therapy plan based on each patient’s needs. This includes talking with patients, family members and doctors about health status and short and long-term goals. Watching patients leave our doors after short-term rehab with the skills and confidence they need to return home is always a priority for us, and we look forward to helping you or your loved one safely return to independence with the tools they need to thrive.