QMG Occupational Therapists (pictured left to right) Erin Adams and Maria Welding

April is Occupational Therapy Month. Erin Adams and Maria Welding are both occupational therapists at Quincy Medical Group (QMG). We took this opportunity to learn more about their roles here and how occupational therapy benefits patients. Here’s what they had to say.

Tell me about your role here at QMG.
Erin: I’m a pediatric occupational therapist, with a specialty certification in sensory integration. I have been with QMG since 2010. I treat anyone from birth up to 18 years of age for a wide variety of diagnoses.  I love that we get to develop special relationships with our patients as we typically see them weekly over longer periods of time to increase the habituation of daily occupations.

Maria: I serve a versatile role at QMG. My time is split between working with pediatric therapy (birth 18 years old) and treating adults with upper extremity impairments/injuries. I fabricate custom splints for patients to wear post-injury/surgery to ensure proper positioning of the elbow, wrist, and hand. Additionally, I use our therapy pool for aquatic intervention with patients of all ages. I have been with QMG since finishing my schooling in 2019.

What is occupational therapy?
Maria: Think about the meaningful activities or “tasks” we do each day. For example: getting dressed, cooking a meal, playing a sport, and working a job are all considered your occupations. Participating in occupations serves various purposes- participation in a hobby/sport, taking care of yourself, or making a contribution to society. Occupational Therapists (OTs) work with anyone that is unable to carry out activities they want, need, or are expected to perform. Using a mix of science, anatomy, physiology, and psychology, we evaluate, design, and carry out therapy programs to enable our patients to make progress towards their goals. Many times, OTs coordinate with other healthcare professionals to ensure our patients receive the most holistic, client-centered care possible.

Fun Fact World War I emphasized the need for occupational therapy intervention and assisted in the development of our profession.  Following the War, Veterans had the opportunity to return to productive work and required the assistance of OTs for help with rehabilitation to re-learn how to perform their occupations before they could do so.

Why would someone need OT?
Erin:   Occupational Therapy can be indicated for all types of diagnoses including but not limited to:

  • Fine motor delays/difficulties — poor coordination creating difficulty with handwriting, scissor skills, completing clothing closures, manipulating small objects, using utensils appropriately
  • Visual deficits — difficulty with ocular motor tracking impairing reading skills, visual perceptual delays, letter reversals, delayed directionality concepts, low vision, visual neglect
  • Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) — difficulty completing grooming tasks, dressing, bathing, toileting, etc.
  • Instrumental Activities of Daily Living) — difficulty completing skills required for independent living including using the telephone, shopping, meal prep, housekeeping, medication management, personal safety
  • Upper-Extremity strengthening — decreased strength due to injury and/or illness
  • Sensory Integration — difficulty with processing tactile (touch), vestibular (movement), proprioceptive (body awareness), auditory, oral, olfactory (smell), and interoceptive (bodily functions)
  • Splinting— post-injury or surgery to ensure adequate positioning while healing

What are the goals of occupational therapy?
Maria: The goal of occupational therapy is to always increase someone’s independence with meaningful activities (their occupations!).

Each patient we see is unique, therefore, goals for therapy will be distinct to what they need.

Some examples include:

  • ​​​Helping a child born with cerebral palsy learn to use their affected upper extremity in order to meet age-appropriate developmental milestones.
  • Assisting a child with autism achieve the environmental and sensory supports they need to succeed in the classroom.
  • Rehabilitating a tennis player following an injury to the elbow in order to return to the game.
  • Educating patients prior to joint replacement surgery on environmental safety, providing techniques to maximize recovery, with the addition of helpful tricks/adaptive equipment to aid in post-operation safety.
  • Helping a patient following an extensive battle with COVID-19 in the hospital with decreased endurance, strength, dexterity, and fine motor skills re-gain the confidence and muscular strength to independently and safely live alone.
  • Aiding a child that has successfully battled chemotherapy treatment and now faces difficulty with school skills (i.e: handwriting, vision, fine motor skills, attention).
  • Splinting a patient’s hand/thumb so that they cannot move or use it in order for healing to occur.
  • Working with a child that has trouble with occupations that involve fine motor skills, or tasks that require strength, control, and dexterity of the hand muscles. We work to strengthen through play. Children may have trouble with tasks such as cutting, stringing beads, and using utensils. If this is not addressed, essential activities (like writing and using a computer) will be difficult later on.
  • Helping to remediate lost function following a stroke and learn new ways to participate in meaningful activities along the way.

Is occupational therapy for both children and adults?
Erin:  Absolutely, at QMG we offer pediatric therapy and adult therapy in separate locations. Occupational therapy is for anyone and everyone.

If a parent or patient has concerns and feels they may benefit from OT, what are their next steps?
Erin: Call your physician’s office and relay your concerns and request an occupational therapy order. Once we receive your physician’s orders we will call to schedule an evaluation and get services started.

For more information on therapy services at QMG, visit https://quincymedgroup.com/medical-services/therapy-services/.