TMA celebrates National Occupational Therapy Month (April) with a conversation with Dr. Malin Regardt, an occupational therapist on our Medical Advisory Board.
“As occupational therapists, we talk to patients about the kinds of activities they have problems with, so we can help them develop new strategies,” Malin says.
While patients might list many things that they struggle with, Malin explains that she tries to help them identify what activities are most meaningful and then makes suggestions that will help them balance their energy throughout the day.
“If you ask myositis patients, can you do this and this and this, they will say yes, but they probably can’t do it all at the same time or whenever they want to do it,” Malin says. “They can probably vacuum and play with their grandchildren and do the grocery shopping, but they can’t do it all on the same day. If they do, they will have more fatigue afterward.”
As an occupational therapist, Malin tries to problem solve with her patients to find a balance in their activity levels that will leave them with enough energy and strength to last throughout the day.
Focusing on what brings the individual joy is most important in this process. So when vacuuming the house is too much of a chore, for example, she suggests patients try to hire someone to clean the house so they can spend their energy playing with their grandchildren instead.
Malin is careful, however, to concentrate on what the patient wants, not what seems logical to her as an occupational therapist.
“I have a patient who liked to square dance, but she got really fatigued the day after she would dance,” she says. “But dancing was so meaningful for her that she chose to do it, even though she was so tired afterward that she needed to rest for the whole day.”
Like spoon theory, which equates having a limited amount of energy with having a limited number of spoons to use each day, Malin stresses that patients need to be aware that they can’t count on having 100% of their energy and must choose consciously what they spend their spoons on.
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