The Benefits of Occupational Therapy

April 11, 2022
Golf OT

Celebrate Occupational Therapy Month

You can still golf, but you are injured, and it’s uncomfortable. Thankfully, an occupational therapist can help make it easier for you to enjoy your favorite pastime!

Occupational therapists can help treat repetitive injuries, such as golfer’s elbow. They can also modify activities and equipment to help you golf with less discomfort. 

“PT gets you up and moving; OT shows you what to do once you get there,” says Tricia Coppola, a Middlesex Health occupational therapist, quoting an old adage. 

What’s the difference?

Physical therapy focuses on movement, balance, strength and other biomechanics. For example, if you have surgery, a physical therapist may show you how to get out of bed and walk. They tend to have a broader focus on the entire body. 

Occupational therapy focuses more on the occupation of living, which means it helps you better complete your daily tasks in addition to helping you restore your physical ability. An occupational therapist will focus on how you will get dressed and manage bathing after surgery. When it comes to golf, they can help you continue to play with less pain. In general, occupational therapists typically focus on the shoulder to the hand — parts of the body that are very important to golfers. 

Coppola says anyone who has an injury to their hand, wrist, elbow or shoulder may benefit from seeing an occupational therapist. You may also want to see an occupational therapist if you need adaptive equipment to make getting through your round of golf easier. 

Note: To see an occupational therapist, you will need a referral from your medical provider. 

What is adaptive equipment and how can it help?

Equipment such as golf gloves or golf clubs can be modified to fit your specific needs. If you have trouble bending down, an occupational therapist might suggest using a ball teeing device. Golf carts can even be modified for someone who has mobility impairments!

Adaptive golf is not uncommon. There are organizations that help people of all abilities play golf, and recently, the U.S. Golf Association added another national championship to its 2022 schedule. The U.S. Adaptive Open Championship will showcase top golfers with disabilities in July. This shows how golf is truly a life sport that can be enjoyed by those of all ages and abilities. 

What you can do on your own

There are countless exercises that benefit golfers — from shoulder and trunk stretches to grip and strengthening exercises. 

Simple forearm stretches, for example, can help prevent golfer’s elbow, a common condition that causes pain where the tendons of your forearm muscles attach to the bump on the inside of your elbow. Ultimately, that pain may spread, impacting your forearm and wrist, making it difficult for you to swing your golf club.  

One example of a forearm stretch is to hold your arm out straight in front of you and gently stretch your wrist in both directions. You should hold each stretch for approximately 15 to 30 seconds. 

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More about occupational therapy and Middlesex

Occupational therapy is an extremely diverse discipline, and occupational therapists work in many settings — from hospitals and outpatient clinics to school systems. They also work in various industries as ergonomic specialists.  

At Middlesex Health, an occupational therapist will perform a thorough evaluation and create an individualized treatment plan meant to help you experience less pain while out on the golf course or doing other things that you love. 

For more information, click here


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