The spine is involved in functional activities to provide stability and mobility for the head and limbs. Damage of the spine can lead to significant impairments in functional activity. Occupational therapy interventions need to be a core component to help clients manage spinal conditions to reduce damage and promote engagement in occupations.
A client's goal-setting needs to be done collaboratively with an occupational therapist and possibly other multi-disciplinary health team members. Creating functional goals using SMART goal setting can help improve treatment outcomes. Treatment plans will vary depending on the person's condition but often include some of the following elements:
Posture and Stability: Modifications to seating and standing postures may be necessary to promote neutral spine positions. Various adaptive devices such as seat cushions or wedges may help balance and rest muscle groups.
Sleep Posture: Mattresses need appropriate firmness to support the body's natural curvatures and optimize the spine's shape. Some people use pillows to accommodate various sleeping positions. For example, a pillow between the knees while side-lying can help relieve some people's back pain while asleep.
Stretches: Poor mobility within the muscles and ligaments of the spine can put extra strain on surrounding structures. Consulting physiotherapists can help to ensure clients are achieving a balance stretching program. An occupational therapist can encourage stretching by incorporating stretches into everyday activities, such as bending down to put on a sock instead of flexing the knee joint.
Pacing and Energy Conservation: This means adapting how a person carries out their daily activities. It helps to understand how much you are doing and which activities are less or more demanding.
Stress management: Learning strategies to manage stress can help people manage symptoms of pain.
Reference: Mooney, Madeleine, and Claire Ireson. Occupational Therapy in Orthopaedics and Trauma. John Wiley & Sons, 2013.