Occupational Therapy and Stroke. The Role of an Occupational Therapist.

NeuroRehab Team
Saturday, August 20th, 2016


Individuals suffering from stroke may have difficulty with activities of daily living (ADL) such as grooming, dressing, managing a household, and with performing familiar roles (e.g., parent, spouse, employee). According to the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), occupational therapy practitioners address the physical, cognitive, and emotional challenges brought on by a stroke, and they can help stroke survivors engage in the things they want and need to do. The following tips are from occupational therapy practitioners who work with people recovering from a stroke.


What is a Stroke?


Listed below are key areas that occupational therapists address when working with people recovering from stroke.



  • Demonstrate one-handed techniques for how to do things like open packages, get dressed, cut food, and use a computer.
  • Provide adapted equipment to increase the ability to accomplish things without assistance.
  • Instruct caregivers on ways to help patients gain more independence in the activities they value.


Home Safety

  • Conduct a full evaluation to identify skills, strengths, and deficits, and create a therapy program based on the patient’s needs and preferences.
  • Provide an in-home evaluation to determine the patient’s safety. The occupational therapist will observe as the patient completes all of the daily activities, including dressing, bathing, cooking, etc., and make recommendations for equipment and changes to the home based on the patient’s particular skills, needs, and goals.
  • Teach the patient and caregiver how to safely move from sitting to standing, get in and out of bed, use the bathroom or the tub/shower, and perform other activities.


Increase Strength and Endurance

  • Use ordinary activities that are meaningful to the patient to improve function, strength, and endurance. These activities could include things like gardening, pet care, cooking, and household tasks.
  • Create an individualized program that helps the patient to safely use his or her affected arm and/or leg more effectively, and to regain strength, balance, and functional movement.


10 Tips For Best Stroke Recovery


Community Re-entry

  • Help identify services that support community mobility in the patient’s area. Evaluate his or her ability to use public transportation and paratransit services (e.g., can you walk from your home to the bus stop? Can you step up into the bus? Can you read a subway map?).Provide therapy and/or adaptations if the patient needs assistance.
  • Evaluate the patient’s readiness to drive and refer him or her to a driving specialist if the skills suggest that this will be an option with additional training and adaptations.
  • Recommend mobility aids (walkers, canes, or wheelchairs), and the training to use them, to increase the ability to navigate safely in the community.


Adjust for Problems with Memory, Confusion, and Concentration

  • Break activities into small steps to make them more manageable.
  • Provide cognitive rehabilitation to help regain as much of the patient’s memory as possible.
  • Incorporate daily activities into therapy to address areas of concern (e.g., handling money, following a schedule).
  • Work with patient’s on strategies to compensate so he or she can participate in favorite activities as fully as possible.







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