Occupational Therapy


Sections:  Reiki | ADLs | IADLs | Cognition | Dementia | Fine Motor | Gross MotorParkinson’s Disease

Occupational therapy is the only profession that helps people across the lifespan to do the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of daily activities (occupations). Occupational therapy practitioners enable people of all ages to live life to its fullest by helping them promote health, and prevent—or live better with—injury, illness, or disability.

Common occupational therapy interventions include helping children with disabilities to participate fully in school and social situations, helping people recovering from injury to regain skills, and providing supports for older adults experiencing physical and cognitive changes. Occupational therapy services typically include: an individualized evaluation, during which the client/family and occupational therapist determine the person’s goals, customized intervention to improve the person’s ability to perform daily activities and reach the goals, and an outcomes evaluation to ensure that the goals are being met and/or make changes to the intervention plan. Occupational therapy practitioners have a holistic perspective, in which the focus is on adapting the environment and/or task to fit the person, and the person is an integral part of the therapy team. It is an evidence-based practice deeply rooted in science.

Occupational therapy is a medical, hands-on approach to restoring function following any interruption in your daily functioning due to a traumatic event or illness for all ages. Occupational Therapist are trained to evaluate all aspects of a person’s ability to live and function independently through assessment of cognition, sensory, vision, strength, range of motion, coordination, balance, pain, and psychological functioning.

The word “occupation” refers to how a person occupies their time, activities of daily living, leisure activities, and their job.  For example, pediatric OT treatment strategies include the “occupation” of play to assist children with their physical and mental development.

Occupational therapist incorporates a variety of treatment strategies to address your needs, including, splinting, strengthening, cognitive activities, coordination, balance, adaptive equipment and environmental adaptations, and pain management.  OT’s goal is a balance of work, rest, and play so you can live the life you want!

Common Diagnoses treated in Occupational Therapy

  • Parkinson’s
  • CVA/stroke
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Muscular Sclerosis
  • Orthopedic injuries
  • Hand injuries: fractures, tendon repairs, tendonitis
  • Post-concussion syndrome/traumatic brain injury
  • Neuropathies
  • Dementia/Alzheimers

Pediatric Diagnoses

  • Autism
  • ADHD
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Sensory processing disorder
  • Developmental disorders
  • Post-concussion syndrome/traumatic brain injury
  • Brachial plexus injury
  • Spina bifida

Benefits of our Occupational Therapy program

Comprehensive evaluation of upper extremity strength, fine motor and gross motor  coordination, activities of daily living as well as instrumental activities of daily living, sensory, cognitive functioning, and perceptual functioning.

Compassionate 1:1  therapeutic intervention.

Develop strengthening program to address your individual needs.

Teach techniques to improve independent functioning in all areas.

Teach energy conservation techniques.

Reiki to decrease pain and anxiety.

Develop adaptive strategies using equipment or environmental changes to improve independence and prevent falls.

Provide custom made splints.

Reassessments will be performed at regular intervals to monitor progress to achieve your goals.

Fall prevention through use of adaptive equipment recommendations, environmental adaptations/home safety, and increase gross motor coordination and strength.


Physical Modalities include:

  • Electrical stimulation
  • Ultrasound
  • Moist heat / ice
  • Manual / hands on therapy:
    • Soft tissue mobilizations (read more below)
    • Deep friction massage
    • Manual stretching
    • Joint mobilization


Fine motor coordination

Fine Motor Coordination (or dexterity) is the coordination of the muscles of the hand and forearm, involving the synchronization of hands and fingers and the eyes.  Diagnoses such as arthritis, stroke, Parkinson’s, muscular sclerosis, and cerebral palsy, can make opening bottles, managing buttons, zippers, and coins, using a keyboard, hobbies/crafts, and putting on jewelry difficult due to poor fine motor coordination. Occupational therapy will design treatment strategies to regain fine motor skills to be independent with these tasks.


Gross Motor Coordination

involves those which require whole body movement, and which involve the large (core stabilizing) muscles of the body to perform everyday functions, such as standing and walking, running and jumping, and sitting upright at the table.  Diagnoses such as Parkinson’s, Muscular sclerosis, stroke, cerebral palsy, head trauma, and generalized weakness effect large muscle groups making performing daily activities difficult.  Occupational Therapy will focus treatment to address these muscles to increase independence with activities of daily living and prevent falls.


Activities of Daily Living

The Activities of Daily Living are the series of basic activities you perform in order to care for your basic needs enabling you to be independent in your home. There are 5 basic categories which include:

  1. Personal hygiene – bathing/showering, grooming, nail care, and oral care
  2. Dressing – the ability to make appropriate clothing decisions and physically dress/undress oneself
  3. Eating – the ability to feed oneself, though not necessarily the capability to prepare food
  4. Maintaining continence – both the mental and physical capacity to use a restroom, including the ability to get on and off the toilet and cleaning oneself
  5. Transferring/Mobility- moving oneself from seated to standing, getting in and out of bed, and the ability to walk independently from one location to another.


 Instrumental Activities of Daily Living

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living are actions that are important to being able to perform above basic needs to be able to live independently in the community. Examples of IADLs include:

  1. Basic communication skills – such as using a regular phone, mobile phone, email, or the Internet.
  2. Transportation – either by driving oneself, arranging rides, or the ability to use public transportation.
  3. Meal preparation – meal planning, cooking, clean up, storage, and the ability to safely use kitchen equipment and utensils.
  4. Shopping – the ability to make appropriate food and clothing purchase decisions.
  5. Housework – doing laundry, washing dishes, dusting, vacuuming, and maintaining a hygienic place of residence.
  6. Managing medications – taking accurate dosages at the appropriate times, managing re-fills, and avoiding conflicts.
  7. Managing personal finances – operating within a budget, writing checks, paying bills, and avoiding scams.


Occupational Therapist are specially trained to address your needs in any of these areas for you to achieve independence and confidence.


Post-concussion syndrome/traumatic brain injury

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that can occur while playing a sport, after a fall, or an event that involves anything that strikes or vigorously shakes your head. A concussion is when your brain function has been affected. When you have a concussion you may experience headaches, decreased ability to concentrate, decreased memory, change in balance, coordination, and vision. Concussions effect are usually temporary but, each concussion’s affects build on the previous one, therefore, even a mild concussion can cause cognitive deficits.  Post-concussion syndrome is when the effects of the concussion continue for weeks and months effecting daily functioning.  Occupational therapist will evaluate cognitive, perceptual, balance, and coordination and develop a treatment plan to regain independent functioning.


As we age, we tend to accept the loss of memory as part of the aging process.  Maintaining and improving cognitive functioning is possible even with the diagnosis of dementia.  The brain responds to challenges, novel experiences, and exercise by developing more neuro pathways.  Occupational therapist will perform evaluation of all aspects of cognitive functioning to determine a plan of care to increase mental awareness, memory, and problem solving.


Perceptual Functioning

Perceptual functioning involves your ability to make sense of the multiple sensory stimulation that naturally occurs in your life.  Our ability to recognize, discriminate, and attend to a variety of sensory input from our environment and our bodies to accomplish tasks and to feel secure and to know where we are in space.  It is a highly complex system that we take for granted when it is regulated but, when someone experiences a disruption of this system due to illness or injury, it can have devastating effects on your independence.  Occupational therapist will address your needs in this area and help you achieve more regulation in order to regain independence.



Reiki is using the universal life force energy to alleviate stress from the body to enable the body’s own natural healing abilities to restore balance to the mind, body and spirit. Diane Gubisch, PhD, OTR/L is a USUI and KARUNA Reiki Master/Teacher for over 20 years, providing Reiki in all aspects of her Occupational Therapy practice.  Reiki has been provided to those seeking balance for increasing health and vitality.  It is a gentle hands on approach to reducing the effects of stress in our daily lives.  Reiki has assisted those who are beginning life and for those at the end of life.  Reiki assist us with being present with ourselves without fear.  Reiki allows us to be still and to be filled with the Universal Life Force open to us all.  Reiki teaches us that we are more than capable of accepting life as it is and compassionately moving forward towards what is right for us at this time.

For more information on Occupational Therapy click here

Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease effects people all over the world with unknown cause and unknown cure.  This is a slow onset neurodegenerative disease that affects a person’s ability to move, think, and be independent.  Some of the symptoms are tremors, slow movement, ridgity of movement, and difficulty with initiating movement.  This affects all the muscles in the body resulting in limited facial expression, episodes of “freezing”- and inability to move for a moment, swallowing and speech difficulties, and impaired balance.  Parkinson’s can affect a person’s memory, problem solving, and emotions.  When someone is diagnosed with Parkinson’s it is vital for the person to stay socially active, maintain flexibility and strength, and continue to perform their own self-care.  Physical, occupational, and speech therapist can offer treatment plans to prevent falls, improve independence in activities of daily living, improve cognitive functioning, prevent aspiration and improve speech.

Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine Center provides pre- and post-surgery orthopedics program, therapeutic modalities, sports injury rehab, fall prevention program, balance and vestibular program, and female only physical therapy program for incontinence, fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, chronic low back pain, neck pain and other conditions specific to women. Our physical therapists serve Greenbelt, Riverdale and Bowie in Prince George's County and Olney in Montgomery County, Maryland. Discover why our patients refer us to their friends and family as the Best physical therapy center in the Washington DC metro area.
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