Barbara M. Doucet; Neurorehabilitation: Are We Doing All That We Can?. Am J Occup Ther 2012;66(4):488-493. doi: 10.5014/ajot.2012.002790.
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Occupational therapists have many intervention tools available for working with clients having a neurological injury; however, some of the most innovative and effective methods have not gained acceptance by many clinicians. Emerging research and new technologies provide occupational therapists with a multitude of treatment strategies and novel devices, but incorporation of those tools into clinical practice appears to be limited by the time necessary to learn about the intervention, educational requirements associated with implementation, or lack of awareness regarding the evidence supporting the use of such tools. Strategies to combat this trend include educating clinicians on evidence-based methods for neurological rehabilitation, aligning academics with practitioners to translate evidence into practical treatment strategies, and accepting that occupational therapy can use these innovations as a means toward state-of-the art, occupation-based practice.
Educate: Ensuring that an occupational therapy department is fully versed in current practice is the department manager’s or education specialist’s responsibility. Support for attendance at state and national conferences and continuing education offerings will provide the impetus for this learning. Therapists who are trained or who become familiar with novel devices or new intervention strategies will be more inclined to use these methods in daily practice. Occupational therapy programs can involve students in evidence-based practice behaviors and expose them to rehabilitation technologies that show proven effectiveness in the clinic.
Collaborate: Clinicians can reach out to academics and researchers within the profession, and academics can do likewise. They are often the ones on the forefront of research evidence; they can assist practitioners in translating the literature into meaningful, effective interventions and creating evidence-based practice models within facilities.
Defy convention: Accept that some of the methods occupational therapists use to enable occupation in clients will not be occupation based. Such strategies may be grounded in the medical model, but occupational therapists should not reject them merely because impairment or remediation is the focus. The medical model has served occupational therapists well, securing and validating their worth; accepting that it is a piece of who they are as occupational therapists is paramount. Additionally, these interventions are the means to an occupational end, the tools that practitioners can use to facilitate and promote healing, which can lead to clients’ successful occupational performance.
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