Early Mobilization: A New Niche for Occupational Therapists.

Occupational Therapy Early Mobilization

The term progressive mobility is defined as a series of planned movements in a sequential manner beginning at a patient’s current mobility status with a goal of returning to his/her baseline. Early mobilization of the critically ill may have just opened up a niche for the rehab profession’s sleeper, the Occupational Therapist. Because a Physical Therapist can treat both upper and lower extremity dysfunctions, OT’s have often been labeled as an after thought, especially in Acute Care. Even worse, as the Electronic Health Records (EHR) materialize, occupational therapy isn’t even an option as an order set for rehab services, which usually only includes physical therapy and speech.

The adverse outcome for a critically ill patient in the ICU ranges from; hospital acquired pneumonia, mechanical ventilation, reconditioning of all muscles, pressure ulcers, joint contractures, and decreased range of motion. The listed outcomes could be delayed and/or prevented by early mobilization even if on a vent in an ICU unit.

Because the role of the PT has changed to discharge planner, there is far less treatment than evaluation. This could open up an opportunity for the Occupational Therapist to become the unsung hero of the ICU. Given the nature of the OT’s daily role, which involves assessing Activities of Daily Living (ADL), the thought of entering an ICU to treat a newly vented patient is rare if not scary.

With critical care nurses and physical therapists spread thin, this extra OT skill-set could be the glue that bonds the departments to create a positive patient experience as well as provide a quick assessment to the next level of care. Thus, opening up a small niche and if taken advantage of, could turn the Occupational Therapist into a huge added value in any critical care setting. The question becomes, Are the OT’s willing to accept the challenge?€

Here at Centra Healthcare Solutions, we have many rehab therapy positions just waiting for a skilled Occupational Therapist to fill. Whether you’re looking for the excitement of a travel therapy job, the flexibility of temporary positions or if you desire a regular, full-time position, contact us today.

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