To understand the role an Occupational Therapist plays in Pain Management is described best by first highlighting Occupational Therapy as a profession.
Occupational therapy is a client-centered health profession concerned with promoting health
and well being through occupation. The primary goal of occupational therapy is to enable people
to participate in the activities of everyday life. Occupational therapists achieve this outcome by
working with people and communities to enhance their ability to engage in the occupations they
want to, need to, or are expected to do, or by modifying the occupation or the environment to
better support their occupational engagement. (OTAus)
As a single discipline Occupational Therapy service, our therapists work with a wide range of individuals across ages in a community based setting providing supports for those experiencing chronic pain either as a primary condition or pain that co exists with other diagnoses. Pain Management interventions and supports are provided using evidence based approaches that support a thorough understanding of the impact that chronic pain has on an individuals ability to participate in their daily activities.
How Can We Help?
Living Without Boundaries Occupational Therapists are skilled in understanding the impact and complexity that chronic pain has in engaging in activities of choice, the influence of environment in participation and social challenges.
Initial assessments involve our therapists utilising a person-family centered approach, using evidence based tools to explore occupational performance challenges in areas of self-care, productivity and leisure.
Occupational Therapy intervention and supports include the delivery of care to provide a holistic approach to pain management that identifies the importance of physical, psychological, cultural, stage of life and environmental factors. Our focus is the provision of strategies to support problem solving and education, seeking a decrease of an individuals pain state to enable increased participation and to collaborate with other Health Professions involved.
Interventions offered by our Occupational Therapists include:
- Neuroscience based Pain Education for the individual and relevant family and relational
2. Functional goal setting that takes into account the person’s developmental stage, family, education and social contexts, and emotional, social, physical and cognitive capacities.
3. Creation of therapeutic environments to promote engagement in meaningful tasks.
4. Assisting family members/ carers to develop co-regulation strategies that support function.
5. Sensory integration/ processing / modulation techniques to assist the individual to self organise their nervous system in order to optimise occupational performance and adaption Sensory Re-education. Providing graded sensory input though meaningful daily activities.
- Assistive Technology to support increased engagement in meaningful activities
- Creation of daily routines to support the adaption of habits and roles based on the client’s
capacities, goals and situation.
9. Incorporate psychology based techniques into daily occupations to support pain
management such as: goal setting, distraction, relaxation, and mindfulness strategies.
10. Incorporate current neuroscience evidence into occupational therapy approaches. This
includes use of graded motor imagery, body schema distortion, pain empathy, cognitive
impairment secondary to pain, effects of poor sleep and medication.
11. Provision of chronic disease self-management approaches such as:
- Joint Protection
- Back Care
- Ergonomic principles
- Sleep Hygiene
- Energy conservation
- Pacing education/self regulation including relaxation and mindful practices (Specific regulation programs include the Alert Program and the Zones of regulation)
- Flare up management
12. Reintegration to work and productive roles on the background of a persisting pain condition.
13. Reintegration to schooling and study from preparatory through to university level education.
- Educating school personnel about pain and pain management strategies
- Assisting the child or adolescent and their families/carers to develop pain management strategies that can be applied in the school setting with support from teaching personnel.
- Transition to school through graded return to school programs.
- Adapting environment and timetable to support optimal functioning.
- Assisting in the development of specific functional skills, such as handwriting.
- Applying for study support through education department as required.
14. To assist the client to safely access the community and services, including driving, public
transport use and computer use
15. Facilitating health literacy and advocacy to enable clients to explore, locate and access
services within their local community that support their mental and physical health.
Intervention supports and role of our Occupational Therapists in your journey towards successful pain management is informed by evidence based practice and Occupational Therapy Australia Pain Management Position Paper