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Occupational Therapy

Through restorative occupational care and treatment methods, as well as adaptive techniques, the occupational therapy department at Altru provides the skills for people of all ages with pain or other health concerns to do everyday activities.

What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapists help patients learn life skills to become more independent, such as:

  • Basic self-care, such as dressing and bathing
  • Home management tasks, such as cleaning
  • Community mobility, such as driving and walking

Occupational Therapy vs. Physical Therapy

Occupational and physical therapy focus on the same overall concept of helping patients achieve the best outcome and return to daily life as smoothly as possible. The therapists’ different areas of expertise determine whether a patient is referred to occupational or physical therapy. Both types of therapy are centered on increasing function, independence and quality of life via rehabilitation or habilitative therapy.

Physical therapists generally focus on restoring a patient’s physical mobility, occupational therapists typically help patients regain skills that help them go about their daily lives. For example, after a stroke, a physical therapist might help a patient relearn how to walk, and an occupational therapist might help him or her with the fine motor skills needed to get dressed.

How Occupational Therapy Benefits Patients and Caregivers

Occupational therapy can benefit both children and adults with several conditions, including:

  • Autism spectrum disorder or sensory processing disorders
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Birth defects, developmental delays or genetic disorders
  • Cancer
  • Chronic pain
  • Injuries, including burns, broken bones, traumatic brain injury or spinal cord injury
  • Major surgeries
  • Multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy or other chronic conditions
  • Stroke

In addition to working closely with patients, occupational therapists will also work with parents, spouses, partners or caregivers to ensure there is a universal understanding of how to manage the patient’s health concern. Our occupational therapists will discuss individualized goals with the patient’s caregivers and/or family. They may also provide additional resources and information to ensure each person receives the care and support he or she needs.

Occupational Therapy Services

Altru’s outpatient occupational therapy service areas include:

  • Driving evaluation that includes a clinical and a practical assessment
  • Lymphedema care, through which certified lymphedema therapists help patients manage edema and lymphedema
  • Neurological rehab, facilitating return to function following a brain or spinal cord injury
  • Pediatric therapy services that help children with neurological, orthopedic or genetic disorders learn how to do daily tasks
  • Pulmonary and cardiac rehabilitation, a personalized program that combines education and exercise to improve lung and cardiovascular health
  • Regional outpatient services, providing rural patients with the region’s No. 1 source of occupational therapy for homes, hospitals, clinics and nursing homes
  • Return to work programs, in which occupational therapists, part of Altru’s injury management team, create a customized program to help injured workers return to their jobs
  • Seating and positioning services, assessment of need and appropriate seating systems and mobility devices for people with acute or chronic mobility issues
  • Sensory issues services, improving a person’s ability to integrate sensory input to better enable participation in and performance of normal activities

Independence at Home

Our patients can use a bedroom, bathroom and kitchen during their therapy sessions, allowing them to practice necessary home management skills with assistance and advisement. Occupational therapists can complete home safety evaluations to assess patients’ living situations and offer them and their families recommendations for safely setting up a home environment that meets their needs.


Bedroom: We have a double bed, thick carpet padding, recliner and alternate light sources. We use this setting to practice and trial skills to complete dressing, clothing access/storage, mobility and home maintenance.

Kitchen: Patients can practice using the stove, refrigerator and other applications of the kitchen environment. The kitchen allows for chair seating for an informal meal. Dinnerware, flatware and other items are available for the patient to utilize.

Call 701.780.5000 or find an Altru occupational therapy location near you to schedule an appointment.


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