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 - Northwestern Memorial Hospital - Chicago

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapists help patients with complex medical or cognitive conditions that limit their ability to care for themselves. The goal of occupational therapy is to help patients become as independent as possible with everyday activities.

When you are referred for occupational therapy you receive a thorough examination by a licensed occupational therapist. This exam includes a review of your medical condition, functional abilities and prior level of function.

Occupational Assessment

An occupational therapy assessment may include evaluation of your:

  • Strength
  • Range of Motion (ROM)
  • Coordination
  • Cognition
  • Sensation
  • Visual Perceptual Skills
  • Ability to perform self-care activities (Activities of Daily Living)
  • Ability to assume previous roles such as parent and/or employee

Treatment Plan

After your initial evaluation, you and your therapist will develop a treatment plan based upon the results and a discussion of your personal goals. Treatment will be adapted to maximize your independence with self care. Treatments may include:

Activities of Daily Living

Treatment focuses on participating in self care and improving performance of everyday tasks such as bathing, toileting, dressing,  grooming and self feeding.

Learning to Use Adaptive Equipment

If necessary, your occupational therapist will teach you to use specially-modified equipment to maximize independence with self-care tasks. This equipment may include modified utensils, a reacher or long-handled shoehorns.

Role Participation and Community Reintegration

Treatment can include adapted techniques and strategies for performing household work, managing finances and grocery shopping. Therapists may ask you detailed questions about your home environment, such as bathroom or kitchen set up, to determine any safety concerns and make equipment recommendations. Treatment may include simulation of the home environment to have you learn how to complete tasks safely and to identify concerns.


We will provide education for both you and your caregivers. Often times, the family and caregivers must learn how to assist you with a safe transition to home.

Discharge Plan

Occupational Therapists work closely with the medical and case management team to make recommendations for discharge, such as continuation of rehabilitation, long-term placement or home services.

Last UpdateFebruary 8, 2011