OT Teletherapy ideas will be covered in this blog. Occupational therapy can be distinct from other telehealth professions in that it often requires clients to have some sort of materials on their end. Planning ahead of time and communicating with the parent or caregiver is often necessary but takes time for the therapist. Leveraging digital technology, having flexible activities handy, and using very common household items are strategies that can help the therapist and the client get the most out of their sessions (all while reducing therapist prep time!) Here are OT teletherapy ideas and activities that can be easily utilized by occupational therapists.
Do you have a new telehealth client? Facilitating a scavenger hunt can be an excellent activity for the initial session. A scavenger hunt offers a chance to observe your client’s ability to attend, follow directions, navigate around a room, locate and transport items, use appropriate force for picking up items, and more. This activity allows for natural social interaction when the client shares their finds. Another bonus of beginning with a scavenger hunt? Get an idea of materials that they have available by asking them to find items such as paper, tape, beads, and something they can write with. Take note of what the client shares so that you can use the items in future interventions. A scavenger hunt is a low-prep activity that can help build rapport, address a variety of skills, and help with future intervention planning. Here are a few more ice breakers activities that OTs can use with their clients.
Yoga is a therapeutic intervention that addresses many common occupational therapy client needs. From body awareness and sensory regulation to following directions and working on interoception skills, yoga is a flexible activity that is great for teletherapy. If your client is a visual learner, share pictures of the poses on your screen. Working on sequencing? Teach and share a variety of poses and have your client teach them back to you in order. Clients who attend for shorter periods of time can do a brief yoga pose (with the aid of a visual timer as needed) in between other therapeutic activities.
Manipulate Household Materials
Another OT teletherapy idea involves manipulating household items. How many things can you do with a just a stack of pennies? Palm-to-finger manipulation; finger-to-palm manipulation; build a coin tower; spin them on the edge; flip them over to make alternating heads and tails patterns; use them to make outlines of shapes; put them in and take them out of your pocket; use a pincer grasp to cross the midline and put them into a cup. It can be a challenge to coordinate having the same materials on both the therapist and client end, but using one accessible material for multiple purposes can reduce the need for the client and/or caregivers to focus on organizing materials. Instead, that valuable time and effort goes into intervention time. Additionally, these materials can spark creativity for clients as they come up with their own methods of using the material. Other simple materials to explore with your client? A sheet of paper, pen or pencil, elastic band, cotton balls, and clothes pins.
Let’s Play a Game!
Is your client motivated by a little bit of friendly competition? Share a digital board game on your screen. TheraPlatform is a platform that has the ability to screen share, as well as a digital spinner app that can be accessed by both the therapist and the client. If it is appropriate, make up the rules together with your client. If your client needs more structure, provide a visual guide. The content of the game should address your client’s goals and may include challenges like 10 criss-cross jumps (for a midline crossing goal), drawing a rectangle (for a visual motor goal), or bear walking to the door and back (for a client who is working on sensory regulation). TheraPlatform offers over 40 built in apps interactive on both ends that OTs can utilize and adopt when working with kids on visual scanning, social- emotional skills.
Teletherapy presents an amazing opportunity in that we get to provide services in the context of the client’s natural environment. This is a great match for occupational therapy! Use this as an opportunity to engage in your client’s daily routines to support what is both functional and meaningful to them. This will look different depending on your client’s level of functioning, age, and goals but may look like: Putting on socks and shoes; buttoning and zipping a jacket; cooking a meal; folding or sorting laundry; putting the dishes in the dishwasher. With teletherapy you have the opportunity to join in and can offer environmental modifications, activity changes, or help them access a skill that will improve their participation.
Many pediatric clients get wide-eyed at the mention of the words ‘obstacle course.’ They will be so thrilled to learn they can make one in their own home. In teletherapy, an obstacle course might looking like crawling under a chair; completing animal walks; climbing over couch cushions; laying in prone to draw a picture; log-rolling from one area to another; tossing socks into a laundry basket; jumping over a rolled up towel, etc. The heavy lifting involved with setting up the course will offer a great proprioceptive benefit as well. Does your client benefit from visual schedules? Draw a schedule on the virtual whiteboard to encourage more independence.
Write a Letter
Here is another easy to implement OT teletherapy idea. It is always so meaningful to both write and receive a hand-written letter. Allow your client to think of someone they would like to write to. It could be a special grandparent, cousin, or favorite aunt or uncle. If a friend’s birthday is approaching or your client recently celebrated their own birthday and needs to write a thank you card, even better! If that doesn’t strike an interest for your client, suggest that they write their letter to a hero or their favorite fictional character.
Reward, Reward, Reward!
Working on a challenging or less motivating goal? Break it down into smaller chunks with plenty of rewards. TheraPlatform offers built-in games that are incredibly motivating to earn. The games are designed to be played for short periods in between other therapeutic activities. With a one-minute timer on the screen when they begin to play, this tool is easy and fun for the client to use and simple for the therapist to navigate to and from. It is a win-win!
To check out all therapeutic activities built into TheraPlatform start your 30 day free trial today.
What is your favorite OT teletherapy activity? Share in the comments below and we’ll add it to our list.
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