Healthy Living After Stroke - The Power of Occupation

Therapist assisting a woman with a tray

Occupations are the activities that we do every day and the tasks that give meaning to our lives. I often think of occupations as the things we need, want, and are expected to do. Today you might have gotten dressed, made breakfast, or cared for your home. These are all examples of things we need to do. You may have also read the newspaper, checked Facebook, or went for a walk. These are likely things you wanted to do. Additionally, you might have attended a family obligation, cared for a child or loved one, or paid your bills. These are things we're expected to do. These are all wonderful examples of what we call occupations.

Why are occupations important? They structure our time and help us develop roles and routines. Consider your daily routine of getting cleaned up and dressed in the morning. We might also have routines around caring for our pets or exercise. Occupations also give us a sense of identity and meaning – one of the first questions we often ask each other is "What do you do?". Many of us define ourselves by the things we do. As teachers, as knitters, as fishermen... I remember my grandpa identifying as a fisherman in his retirement. Maybe you identify as a grandparent, chef or cook, dancer?

Occupations are also important to our health and quality of life. Occupations keep our bodies moving and our minds working. Today you may have gone for a walk, read the paper, or called a friend. All of these tasks exercise our bodies and minds.

Some people have trouble returning to their occupations after a stroke or brain injury. For example, if you had a stroke you may have difficulty preparing meals because one side of your body is weaker. An occupational therapist (OT) can help you either strengthen that side of the body or develop different strategies to return to cooking. Occupational therapists use the power of occupation to rehabilitate their clients. For instance, to strengthen your arm after a stroke an OT would have the client practice reaching into the cupboards or carrying items with their impaired arm. There are many ways OTs can use occupations to help you return to your favorite daily activities.

What occupations do you need to do, want to do, or are expected to? Moxie OT can help you return to these valued activities. Contact us today to find out how.