A shoulder injury can impact almost every activity in everyday life. The first thing an occupational therapist will do after the patient is sent to them is to evaluate the health of the shoulder and identify what potential, everyday activities will affect the healing process. Once the therapist understands what type of demands will be made on the joint, they can develop an exercise program that will strengthen the joint, increase mobility and hopefully prevent shoulder pain.
During OT, the therapist will begin by using the lightest weights possible and help the patient regain as much range of motion as possible. As the range of motion increases, the therapist will begin to increase the level of activity, while at the same time gradually adding light amounts of weight. Gently moving the joint will help to reduce inflammation, keeping the joint flexible and functioning smoothly. Occupational therapy is a gradual process that allows the person to slowly regain their strength as the joint is allowed to heal naturally.
As the shoulder continues to heal, the occupational therapist will provide the patient with exercises that can be performed at home, allowing them to continue to work the injured area on a daily basis. The therapist will instruct the patient on the proper way to perform the exercises, reducing the risk of re-injuring the shoulder. While mild pain may be present at the shoulder is exercised, moderate or severe pain should be immediately reported to the occupational therapist or physician.