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Occupational therapy helps patients recover from injuries, trauma, and neurological or musculoskeletal disorders to regain the skills needed to resume the highest level of function for daily living and tasks. Occupational therapy helps people participate in the things they want and need to do every day, such as dressing, bathing, and getting around. At a first OT appointment, a therapist and the patient will set goals and create a plan to achieve those goals.
Caring for Patients
Occupational therapists (OTs) are licensed health care professionals typically with a master’s degree in occupational therapy. They offer specialized assessment and treatment in hand and upper extremity conditions such as arthritis, fractures, upper extremity traumas, tendon and nerve injuries, and recovery from surgical procedures.
Patients in need of hand therapy may be seen by a certified hand therapist. This is a licensed and registered occupational therapist with advanced training in hand therapy.
Occupational therapist assistants are part of a patient’s care team and help assist occupational therapists in providing occupational therapy treatments and procedures.
Occupational therapy interventions include:
- Custom splinting, constructed by hand therapists and used to help a painful joint rest, increase stability, and provide pain-free functional use.
- Edema control
- Soft tissue/scar management
- Physical agent modalities
- Therapeutic activities
The OTs provide care for conditions such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease, and brain injuries, including concussions. The neurological team focuses on self-care and homemaking re-training, custom splinting, cognitive and neuro-muscular re-education so patients may function safely at home and in the community.
Shapiro Center 617.638.7869 [email protected]
Recovering from an injury or learning to live with a physical disability or limitation can be challenging. Physical therapy (PT) and occupational therapy (OT) can help patients regain strength or mobility, relearn skills, or find new ways of performing everyday tasks.
Physical therapy (PT) is a healthcare specialty used to evaluate, diagnose, and treat physical problems or disorders of the human body. The goal of PT is for people to be able to go about their normal daily activities as they did before an injury or surgery. Therapists use exercise, manual skills, and functional training to help patients return to their prior level of activity.
The Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery is the first center in New England to provide such a comprehensive program and is a leader nationally in delivery of transgender medical and surgical care.
The Cancer Care Center at Boston Medical Center cares for patients with malignant and non-malignant blood disorders and cancer. The Center provides diagnostic services, innovative treatments, and comprehensive care to patients by an outstanding, nationally recognized, multidisciplinary team of hematologists, oncologists, radiation oncologists, surgeons, oncology nurses, social workers, and dieticians.
The Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Boston Medical Center, one of the most outstanding in New England, provides comprehensive, exceptional orthopedic care to every patient, without exception.
The Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Program offers consultation, expertise and comprehensive care to individuals with neurological movement disorders. Ongoing, long-term care delivered by an interdisciplinary team of specialists provides patients with individualized care and access to the newest developments in treatment. Our team includes Neurologists who are Movement Disorder Specialists, nurses and rehabilitation specialists.
The Pediatric Pain Clinic at Boston Medical Center manages acute, complex, and chronic pain in children from infancy to age 22. Our team of experts work closely with each patient's primary care physician, striving to help children regain normal lives and participate in typical age-appropriate activities.
The Department of Rheumatology provides a full range of services - including joint injections, musculoskeletal ultrasound, and infusion therapies – for arthritis and systemic rheumatic autoimmune diseases, including scleroderma, lupus, inflammatory arthritis, spondyloarthritis, osteoarthritis, and gout. For all conditions, our rheumatologists work closely with providers in other departments to ensure you receive the best care possible, for all aspects of your health.
Boston Medical Center’s Comprehensive Stroke and Cerebrovascular Center offers a full spectrum of clinical and academic services to provide contemporary treatment for patients with brain, carotid and spinal vascular diseases.
Conditions We Treat
These disorders can be complex, as they may involve the gastrointestinal tract, genitourinary tract and/or the pelvic musculoskeletal system. Therefore, an evaluation by a team of different kinds of doctors is important. At BMC, colorectal and gastrointestinal surgeons, gastroenterologists, gynecologists, urologists, therapists, psychologists, and primary care physicians all work together to determine the best course of treatment for individual patients.
The brain, inner ear, muscles, joints, central nervous system, senses and blood vessels/heart all work together for normal balance. These links are called the vestibular system. Sometimes a disease or injury can damage this system causing dizziness, vertigo, trouble with walking or balancing, and sometimes difficulty with hearing and vision
After bone or joint replacement surgery, specific exercises can help increase range of motion and flexibility, as well as strengthen the muscles while you get used to your new bone or joint. Your doctor, physical therapist, or occupational therapist can help develop an individualized exercise program that meets your needs and lifestyle.
A bone fracture is a broken bone, which can happen to any bone in the body. Fractures require medical attention. Injury is the most common cause, with symptoms including bruising, bleeding, difficulty breathing and in the case of a limb (arm, leg), deformity. Diseases like osteoporosis can weaken bones, making them more susceptible to breaking.
Concussion is an interruption in normal brain activity usually due to a trauma to the head like a car accident or from a sports injury. Symptoms can include loss of consciousness, but because this does not happen in every case, many concussions go undiagnosed and untreated. Other symptoms that might occur are confusion and forgetfulness, nausea, vision problems, dizziness, and more.
Tendinosis (or tendonitis) means inflammation of a tendon; De Quervain's tendinosis is the irritation or inflammation of the tendons that run along the base of the thumb. Symptoms include pain and tenderness in the thumb and side of the wrist that can travel up the arm, particularly when gripping or twisting the wrist. Overuse can cause De Quervain's tendinosis, as can pregnancy and its related hormonal changes, and rheumatoid arthritis. This condition is most common in middle-aged women.
Dyspareunia is described as pain with intercourse. This pain can be on the outside of the vaginal opening or deep in the pelvis. Sometimes the muscles in the pelvic floor are tense or tight and this can cause pain. Dyspareunia can be caused by many other things such as endometriosis or postpartum issues. PT can help patients manage their pain with relaxation techniques for the pelvic floor, exercises to control pelvic movement, and education to manage symptoms.
This is also known as painful bladder syndrome. IC is a chronic condition that can cause increased frequency of urination, urgency, and pain/pressure in bladder. Chronic pain can cause spasms of pelvic floor muscles. PT can help control pain, teach relaxation techniques, educate patient on timing voids during the day, and teach healthy bladder habits.
Certified lymphedema therapists utilize Complete Decongestive Therapy- the gold standard treatment consisting of manual lymph drainage, bandaging, and exercises to help with movement and drainage of the lymph fluid and reduction in limb size.
Overactive bladder can cause the sudden urge to urinate which can be difficult to control. It often causes frequent urination (more than 8 times in 24 hours), nighttime urination, and sometimes urinary leakage. PT can help change voiding (urinating patterns) by timing voids during the day, making changes to drinking/eating habits, and learning to hold the bladder using pelvic floor muscles.
Parkinson's disease is a neurological disorder that disrupts normal function and communication between brain cells. It gets worse over time and mostly affects older adults (and more men than women). Symptoms include tremors (shaking) that usually begin on one side of the body or in one body part, like the hand.
The pelvic floor muscles are a group of muscles located in the bottom of your pelvis and inside your pelvis. They control urination, bowel function, and sexual function. If these muscles become weak, you could have problems with urinary leakage, urinating frequently, difficulty with bowel movements, or pain with intercourse. PT can teach you exercises to help strengthen these muscles to help manage your symptoms.
Pelvic Organ Prolapse is when the uterus, bladder, or rectum “drops” down onto the vaginal canal. This can cause pain, heaviness, or sense of something bulging in pelvis. PT can help educate patient on posture and body mechanics to avoid worsening of symptoms. Exercises can also help strengthen the pelvis and abdomen to help manage this condition.
Pelvic Pain can be any pain in or around your pelvis. It can be caused by many things such as tight pelvic muscles, weak muscles of the pelvic floor, or other bladder/bowel issues. PT can help relax muscles of the pelvic floor, strengthen muscles that are weak, and educate patients on how to manage symptoms independently.
Spinal fractures can vary widely in severity. While some fractures are very serious injuries that require emergency treatment, other fractures can be the result of bones weakened by osteoporosis. Most spinal fractures occur in the thoracic (mid-back) and lumbar spine (lower back) or at the connection of the two (the “thoracolumbar junction”). Fractures of the thoracic and lumbar spine may result from high-energy trauma, such as: a car or motorcycle crash; a fall from height; a sports accident; or a violent act, such as a gunshot wound.
A stroke is a medical emergency that happens when the blood supply is slowed or blocked in the brain, causing brain cells to die. Signs that someone is having a stroke include slurred speech and numbness or paralysis (unable to move) in the face, arm or leg. Causes include blood clots in the brain, clots that travel from other parts of the body and lodge in the smaller vessels in the brain, a blocked artery, or a bleed in a blood vessel.
Walking, running, or moving around on foot is referred to as “gait.” Gait abnormalities or walking abnormalities are usually caused by a disease or injury in the leg, foot, brain, spine, or inner ear. PT can help improve muscle strength and stability and balance to improve gait mobility and function.
Karen Mattie, MSPT
Director, Rehabilitative Services
Kara Schworm, MSPT, CCS
Manager, Inpatient Rehabilitative Services
James Sherman, PT, DPT
Manager, Outpatient Rehabilitative Services, Winthrop Neighborhood Health
Operations Manager, Rehabilitative Services
Sara Aliperti, PT, DPT, MS, OCS
Manager, Outpatient Rehabilitative Services, Boston Medical Center Campus
Residency and Fellowship Information
Physical and Occupational Therapy Education & Training for Students
Clinical affiliations with accredited PT, PT, and OT programs:
- Boston University
- Drexel University
- Ithaca University
- MGH – IHP
- Northeastern University
- Springfield College
- University of Indianapolis
- UMass – Lowell
- University of Rhode Island
- Boston University
- Springfield College
- University of Indianapolis
Physical Therapy Assistant
- Baystate College
- University of Indianapolis