A Service User’s Experience of Occupational Therapy

"One of our clients has shared her experience of working with Occupational Therapy after brain injury".

At CNS we believe in finding someone’s niche in order to generate the opportunity to engage. When working with clients who have acquired brain injury it can take time to establish rapport and the client’s understanding of the OT role, in order to generate that niche opportunity to engage. One of our clients has kindly taken the time to share with us her experience of working with our associate Occupational Therapist, Heather.

Tell us a little about how you came to be in contact with OT?

I had a brain injury three years ago that I did not and still do not recognise it as a problem.

What did you think of the work OT was doing with you when you first started sessions?

Heather constantly advised me to do things that I did not feel necessary, like writing a memory book/diary.  I did not feel I had problems remembering things. At first, I could not see how a young girl could know what to do with me.  She may have read books and gotten qualified, but she has never had a brain injury, how could she know how to put it right?

Did your perspective change?

I finally started to write things down so she would stop nagging me.  What I did not recognise until maybe six months ago was, she does know what she is talking about and does help enormously, if you stop and listen and take note of what she is telling you, she does have your health and welfare at heart.

What would you say to someone else having OT input following a brain injury?

I am a stubborn woman and need to prove to myself that I can do things. I learnt very recently that my limits are nowhere near as good as they used to be but I learnt the hard way.

She was there to teach me to walk outside again she gave me the confidence to do it on my own and not be to be scared of having strangers around me.

She encouraged me to do volunteer work.  She came with me and gave me clear instructions on how to handle other people and the environment. She gave me a list of ‘things to do’ if I suddenly felt overwhelmed and unable to cope (which I did and still use).

She was there to support, encourage and guide me.

Some of the things she asked me to do I felt were pointless but three years on I can see she had a purpose.  I could not see it then but I sure do now.

It is so easy to think “woe is me”. I still feel very vulnerable, life is so hard but at least I am alive to see another beautiful day.

How do you feel about your OT?

Well, what can I tell you about Heather?? She is a very, very professional OT. She never says, don’t do it, or I told you so. She can see in me what I am oblivious to. She was very professional and explained to me that being the stubborn person that I am I needed to discover for myself what my limits are safe.  I now know this under her guidance.  She can see when I have pushed myself too far and knows how to advise a break to gather myself again without patronising me.  She has done a brilliant job.

In summary

Engaging in rehabilitation post-brain injury is no mean feat. So often our client’s experience reduced insight into the ways in which their brain injury has impacted them. This in turn impacts their engagement with rehab and uptake of strategies. Heather has stuck a perfect balance of allowing her client autonomy whilst providing some steer and guidance. Whilst it is true that Heather can see things in her client that she is herself oblivious to, she has worked gently but steadily to improve her client’s insight, all the while providing cognitive and vocational rehabilitation. We are delighted that this lady is now engaged in suitable volunteer work and thriving in her rehabilitation journey.

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