Getting Help with Activities of Daily Living
Occupational therapy is designed to help you participate in the things you want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities.
A professional occupational therapist will show you how to improve your daily activities, perform them in a new way or use assistive devices and equipment to make it easier to complete them. Your occupational therapist will identify the skills affected by your brain tumor, assess your level of function and develop a plan so you can perform activities with confidence.
Evaluating Your Needs
Your initial evaluation often occurs in the hospital, before you are sent home, and is typically conducted by an occupational therapist with skills and experience working with people with brain tumors. The therapist will determine your baseline skill level, strengths and limitations, and will pinpoint what areas you need help.
Tell the therapist about any particular difficulties you are experiencing and discuss your personal goals, expectations and priorities. The therapist will then develop a treatment plan with specific short-term and long-term goals. For example, if you are having trouble stepping into a bathtub, the occupational therapist can teach you techniques that reduce your chances of falling and recommend helpful equipment, such as a shower chair or a grab bar to assist with safety and balance.
Before you are discharged from the hospital, the occupational therapist might also pay a visit to your home for a comprehensive evaluation. Recommendations for specific modifications might include non-slip rug pads, room-to-room communication devices, railings in the bathtub and durable medical equipment (DME) such as wheelchairs. Some insurers will assist you in paying for this kind of equipment.
Making Sure You Have Insurance Coverage
The amount of money health insurers are willing to pay for occupational therapy is limited and can vary among companies. Before starting therapy, determine what level of services will be covered and whether the occupational therapist you choose is eligible for payment by your insurer. If it turns out later that the insurer will not cover services, you will be billed for them.
If you are over age 65, Medicare will cover outpatient occupational therapy but limits yearly payments. There is no Medicare cap if you go to an outpatient therapy department at the hospital, but even in this case, you still have to meet your yearly Medicare deductible and then pay 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount.
If your insurer does not cover occupational therapy services –– or covers a very limited number of sessions –– ask if coverage can include an evaluation for a home-based occupational therapy program. This approach would focus on a specific area, such as improving your meal preparation skills. In this case, an occupational therapist would suggest adaptive kitchen utensils and simple compensation techniques to learn at home.
Identifying an Occupational Therapy Program
You will need to ask your doctor to write a referral for the initial occupational therapy evaluation and treatment. The hospital where you are being treated may offer a rehabilitative medicine program that includes occupational therapy services. If you conduct your own search for a nearby program, seek out a brain injury rehabilitation program which also covers brain tumor patients as some of the same concerns apply to both populations.
Achieving Mastery in the Activities of Daily Living
Your occupational therapist will measure your ability to function in terms of activities of daily living (ADLs). These include a number of basic self-care activities covering personal hygiene and grooming, dressing and undressing, self-feeding, functional transfers such as getting from bed to wheelchair, getting on and off the toilet, and walking without use of an assistive device like a walker, cane or wheelchair.
The therapist will also measure instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) -- things you do that are not absolutely necessary but are important for you to live independently. These activities involve doing housework, taking medications on your own, managing money, taking transportation, shopping for groceries or clothing, using a phone and using your TV or computer. As a result, you will find new ways to achieve greater degrees of self-sufficiency in your daily life. As a result, you will find new ways to achieve greater degrees of self-sufficiency in your daily life.