Occupational therapists (often known as OTs) can help people with multiple sclerosis in a number of ways. The main aim of occupational therapy is to help you continue to live life as fully as possible, providing practical support to overcome whatever barriers you may find in your daily activities. This might include supporting you with symptom control, such as fatigue management, spasticity management, cognitive rehabilitation, posture and positioning, and pressure sore care.
OTs take a 'whole-person' approach to mental and physical health and wellbeing, and regard 'occupation' as meaning daily self-care, working life and leisure activities, so they are key to helping you find solutions to any difficulties you encounter in everyday activities. They have a role in rehabilitation to help you retain function, sourcing equipment for daily living, writing moving and handling plans for care agencies and they can also proactively support funding applications for care, equipment and grants for social opportunities.
Very often occupational therapists can visit you in your home or workplace and make simple suggestions for changes in lifestyle, or suggest useful equipment and adaptations. Some OTs run clinics or courses on topics like seated yoga or fatigue management, or they may be part of a larger multidisciplinary team offering related services.
Occupational therapists may specialise in different areas, such as children's health, mental health, driving assessments, home adaptations, or access to work. OTs can also work in hospitals or community-based settings, such as rehabilitation units or MS Therapy Centres.
Initially, a GP or neurologist can refer you to an occupational therapy service. Some OTs work outside health and social services, so they may have a shorter waiting list but will charge for their services. OTs are included on the map of MS services here on our website, but you can also find one through the Royal College of Occupational Therapists.
Occupational Therapist is a protected title, and to become an OT takes degree-level training and education. Anyone using this title must be on the register held by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). You can check whether your OT is registered using the search facility on the Health and Care Professions Council's website.
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Occupational therapy - Steph's story
Steph is a music and performing arts manager at an FE college. She was diagnosed with MS in 2008. Here she talks about how Gilly Burdon, an MS specialist occupational therapist, helped her.
Occupational therapy - Katie's story
Katie was diagnosed with MS in 2008. Here she tells us how Gilly Burdon, an MS specialist occupational therapist helped her.