Occupational Therapy Activities for the Upper Body

Occupational Therapy utilizes everyday tasks to help patients improve muscle strength, endurance, and range of motion after traumatic injuries, strokes, or tendinitis. For many patients, restricted use of the upper extremities can cause disruption to daily life. Occupational Therapists can help patients regain movement in the hands, arms, and shoulders and help them rebuild their independence. Here are a few activities an Occupational Therapist might incorporate into a patient’s rehabilitation treatment plan for the upper body.

  • Folding laundry is an everyday task that requires a good bit of muscle endurance. Patients may start off sitting in a chair to fold smaller items, and then gradually move to folding bulkier items (such as comforters) and for longer periods of time. The Occupational Therapist may even add weighted cuffs to the patient’s hands to further strengthen arm muscles.
  • Tossing a ball can help increase range of motion, muscle endurance, and muscle strength. An Occupational Therapist may start with the patient sitting down and have them throw and catch a light-weight ball, and then move on to using a heavier ball. The next step up would be having the patient stand while tossing and catching a medicine ball to further increase strength and balance.
  • Many daily tasks require the use of fine motor skills of the hands. An Occupational Therapist may have patients screwing nuts onto bolts or putting pegs into holes to increase dexterity. The duration of the activity will gradually be increased to help build endurance, and weighted cuffs may be added to the wrists to help improve muscle strength.

Occupational Therapy can also help patients improve balance, problem solving skills, and ability to follow directions. The Occupational Therapist evaluates the patient’s current level of ability and function, which is then weighed with the patient’s goals to create a unique treatment plan suited to that patient.

To find out if Occupational Therapy is right for you, contact the Vereen Center today.