What are some things affecting community mobility?
Many of our patients have diagnoses and ailments that impact their ability to leave their homes and participate in the activities that were fundamental to their lives prior to an accident, injury, hospital stay, or decline. Some of the things impacting their ability to leave their home and move about their community independently include:
- Generalized weakness and lack of energy
- Symptoms of depression and lethargy because of their injury, diagnosis, or physical status
- Inappropriate or uncustomized mobility devices including a cane, walker, rollator, wheelchair or scooter.
- Physical symptoms such as a recent joint replacement, bone fracture, spinal stenosis, chronic pain, generalized weakness, poor heart and lung health, poor balance and/or dizziness (chronic falls), or psychosocial implications like a perpetual fear of falling.
- Unfamiliar with public transportation
- Unfamiliar with options to assist with independence in community mobility
Community Mobility Inventory
A mobility inventory is an element of a comprehensive evaluation where your rehab specialist will ask you what places in the community you were going to the past, are able to go to currently, and where you would like to go in the future. The physical environment is important and knowing what elements of community mobility need to be addressed is crucial to learning the skills you need quickly so that your community participation can resume. Some of these skills include stair training, curb training, using a mobility device, balance, visual perception, learning how to use other modes of transportation, and restoring your confidence.
Assessment of Movement
As occupational therapists, we can assess functional movement and recommend adaptive equipment as well as durable medical equipment that will enhance your community mobility. Before we can make any recommendations, we must assess your ability to move and determine how you are walking and holding your posture, if you are presenting with any muscle imbalances, the status of your upper body and lower body range of motion and flexibility deficits and finally, determine the status of your muscle stamina. After we complete this assessment, we can help you decide what mobility aid would be most appropriate for you, if any.
Muscles and Bones
Your rehab specialist is well-versed in the upper body and lower body function. We understand how muscles and bones are designed to heal and can, therefore, use our vast knowledge of the human body and it’s systems to decrease muscle imbalances and help you become stronger and more flexible so that you can perform essential mobility aspects of activities of independence. Some of these functions include reaching for items, carrying groceries, standing for long periods of time, holding a pan/knife during food preparation and much more.
Increase Endurance and Muscle Stamina
In order to accomplish any activity during community mobility, you must be able to have the energy to do it. Regardless of your diagnosis! Whether you are strengthening your facial muscles or your huge hamstrings, quadriceps, and glutes, your muscles’ ability to activate for an extended period of time is important for independence. Likewise, your brain and muscles need oxygen in order to feed energy throughout your body which is why your rehab specialist will also focus on the efficiency and strengthening of your heart and lungs! This will prevent early fatigue, muscle injury, and lightheadedness when out in the community!
Cognition and Safety Awareness
Community mobility whether to accomplish instrumental activities of daily living or other meaningful activities [occupations] requires the ability to think clearly, methodically, and reasonably. These elements are critical for safety awareness and your ability to accomplish any task. We take for granted the complex nature of activities for daily function. Each large task is made up of many small tasks that require your body’s ability to work synergistically! All of this starts with your brain and your mind! This is why our outpatient rehabilitation approach is based on neurological principles that we call neurocentric rehabilitation
Education of Crucial Elements of Recovery and Rehabilitation
Buffalo Occupational Therapy practitioners are all educators. We believe that one of the secrets to recovery is equipping you with the information we know! It is important to us that you understand the rehabilitation process and all of the options available to you to be independent. Whether is it learning the course of your illness and how it will affect your function in the future, learning the right way to move your body, re-learning strategies of independence like compensations and adaptations, or understanding the importance of energy conservation and diaphragmatic breathing – your rehab specialist wants you to feel the hope that comes from knowledge!
Therapeutic Exercise and Therapeutic Activity
In our outpatient rehabilitation studio, we use many different techniques, strategies, tools, exercises, and activities to increase balance, dynamic standing, and joint stability. Some tools and equipment we use are agility ladders, aerobic steppers, tandem walking surfaces, free weights, theraband, bosu balls, manual therapy, modalities, and much more! Doesn’t sound like occupational therapy? Read more about our hybrid approach to outpatient rehabilitation!
‘Real-Life’ Activities or Occupation-based Interventions
Occupation-based interventions are the most functional-based approach to rehabilitation. When you are invested in the activity and understand why you are doing something, your brain’s ability to heal and re-learn motor patterns improves exponentially! Occupational therapists are functional rehabilitation specialists which means we are experts in translating physical strategies into functional activities! We understand that performing a sit-to-stand in the studio is much different than getting up from your favorite recliner chair! Likewise, re-learning how to move your arm or walk in the studio is much different than feeling confident entering your home or moving about the community! Buffalo Occupational Therapy always bridges this gap and includes these real-life elements as part of our outpatient rehabilitation process!
Ensure you are given a comprehensive evaluation by your therapist!
It should include objective assessments, a work-up of upper and lower body strength and range of motion, a screen for reaction time and coordination, a cognition screen to ensure your memory has not been affected by decreased mobility, and a conversation or perceptual screen regarding your fear associated with falling.
Commit yourself to at least 6-8 weeks of outpatient therapy after discussing the plan with your therapist.
Improvement takes time! You can’t improve without a commitment to a plan. Additionally, many times you must first address physical symptoms such as fine motor skills, standing tolerance, balance, visual perception, walking, muscle imbalances, and strength and flexibility. Completing the hybrid program of therapy offered through Buffalo Occupational Therapy is essential to maximizing your results!
Follow the Home Exercises Program (HEP)
Your therapist will give you a home exercise program including exercises, stretches to help prepare you for your mobility aid (if applicable), but most importantly, following your HEP will help you resume community mobility as soon as possible!
Our outpatient rehab program is unique and educational. We want to equip you with the answers you are seeking and will do our best to give you the most current information! Be an active part of your therapy program!
Are you facing a specific diagnosis or condition effecting your functional performance?
Check out some examples of conditions we treat through outpatient rehabilitation!
Helpful Page Definititions
Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs)
Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs) are essential for independence in life roles and required for aging in place. There are 8 activities core activities for independence including cooking, cleaning, communication, taking and managing medication, handling your personal finances, transportation and community mobility, shopping
Cooking - The ability to follow a recipe and having the stamina to prepare a meal for yourself and/or your family
Cleaning - The ability to perform light housekeeping including making your bed, doing your laundry, washing the dishes, taking out the trash, vacuuming, sweeping, cleaning your bathroom, etc.
Communication - The ability to use the telephone, the computer, have conversations with people (familiar and strangers), communicate your needs clearly.
Taking medication - The ability to sort and organize your medication or determine a compensatory method to do so as well as taking the appropriate dosage at the appropriate time.
Personal Finances - The ability to establish an organization method to understand financial responsibilities and pay your bills on time.
Transportation - Whether you are driving, calling for a driving service like a taxi or Uber, or taking public education. You must have a defined action plan for community mobility and transportation.
Shopping - The ability to plan transportation, plan a grocery/clothing list of needs for yourself and your home, have the stamina to collect your items at the store, and be able to get them into your house.
As occupational therapists, we can assess functional movement and recommend adaptive equipment as well as durable medical equipment that will enhance your community mobility. Before we can make any recommendations, we must assess your ability to move and determine how you are walking and holding your posture, if you are presenting with muscle imbalances, the status of your upper body and lower body range of motion and flexibility deficits and finally, determine the status of your muscle stamina. After we complete this assessment, we can help you decide what mobility aid would be most appropriate for you, if any.
Types of mobility aids include cane (single point, quad cane, tripod cane), crutches, knee scooter, cane-crutch combination, walkers (4 wheeled walker, 2 wheeled walker, standard walker), walker-cane hybrid, hemi-walker, gait trainer, scooters, wheelchairs and more.
We will help decide what device would be most appropriate, help with positioning, and then train you on best practices to maximize your mobility!
Your body is complex and should be working synergistically with all of its parts. When some muscles have become weaker while others remain strong, an imbalance occurs which causes decrease balance, standing tolerance, and joint stability.
We incorporate visual perceptual elements into many treatments to enhance perception, balance, safety, cognition, memory, recall and neural excitation. Some areas of visual perception include form constancy, visual discrimination, figure-ground perception, visual closure, visual memory, and visual sequential memory.
Occupational therapists treat the entire person. Much like your primary care physician, we were required to learn elements of the entire body so that we could treat holistically (a one stop shop). Because of this, your outpatient rehabilitation specialist will perform an evaluation that assesses the following things:
- Personal history
- Who are you? What do you do? What makes you tick? Why are you seeking outpatient therapy?
- Physical function (upper body and lower body)
- Strength, range of motion, and flexibility
- Neuromuscular function (brain to muscle communication)
- Coordination, speed, agility, and reaction time
- Cognitive and Mind health
- Short term memory, recall, information processing, and perception of illness
- Occupational Inventory (Activity and role inventory)
- Roles you play like a caregiver, spouse, parent, employee, etc.
- Mobility inventory like the places you need to go
- IADL inventory and what activities are required for you to be independent
- Other activities that are important to you