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Cairns Occupational Therapy Services

Reducing risks and optimising function at work and home

Our Occupational Therapists take a holistic approach to the needs of their clients. Treatment usually involves three stages of care:

  1. Evaluation: The abilities of the client are assessed in the context of work, school, home, leisure, general lifestyle and family situation.
  2. Consultation: Having made an assessment, the Occupational Therapist then talks with the client, other professionals and family members who may be closely involved, in developing a treatment programme.
  3. Treatment: Depending on the nature and length of the programme, it may take place in our practice, a hospital ward, residential care facility or at the client’s home, school or workplace. The goal is to maximise the client's skills for living.

Read about some of the occupational therapy issues we specialise in »

Hand Therapy
Hand therapy
Hand Therapy - thermoplastic splint

Our Occupational Therapists specialise in evaluating and treating any problem related to fingers, hands or arms. The therapist uses their expertise to accurately assess and provide effective therapy programs for diagnoses such as:

  • Amputation
  • Arthritis
  • Burns
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Crush Injuries
  • Dupuytren's Contracture
  • Fractures
  • Joint Replacements
  • Soft Tissue Injuries
  • Sprains and Strains
  • Tendon or Nerve Injury

The goal of hand therapy is to accelerate the patients return to a productive lifestyle, minimising the impact of the injury on work, home and leisure activities.

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Lymphatic Screening and Education Service
Lymphatic Screening and Education Service

For many years it has been apparent to Cairns OT’s therapists that there is a need for earlier detection and risk reduction education for lymphatic drainage problems that can present following cancer treatment.

COUCH Cairns has generously provided funding for an L-Dex machine to permit greater access to this form of screening, in particular prior to surgical treatment, radiotherapy or chemotherapy. L-Dex is a non-invasive assessment that is well established as the most effective way to detect and monitor the early onset of lymphatic drainage problems. The aim is to see as many people with a diagnosis of cancer prior to their surgery/radiation as possible, to establish baseline data, which we can compare subsequent assessment data to effectively manage their condition / risk. (Refer to patient handout)

The Australasian Lymphology Association recommends all people undertaking treatment for cancer have a pre-surgery L-Dex reading taken and circumferential measurements of relevant limbs to achieve optimal long term outcomes. Reviews are recommended every 3-6 months post-op for 2 years and 6-12 monthly thereafter.

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Lymphoedema Management
Lymphoedema management

Lymphoedema is a chronic condition that causes an accumulation of abnormal swelling in various parts of the body. Lymphoedema can be caused by a primary type (i.e. born with impaired lymphatic function) or a secondary type (such as removal of lymph nodes, radiation treatment, surgery, cellulitis infections or a chronic venous insufficiency.)

Some indications that you may have lymphoedema include:

  • A history of damage or trauma to the lymphatic system (e.g. surgery, radiation, scar tissue)
  • Heaviness or aching in the limb
  • Difficulty fitting clothes (i.e. one side arm sleeves tighter than the other)
  • Difficulty fitting shoes
  • Difficulty wearing rings and watches
  • Swelling is ‘pitting’ (leaves an indent in the skin after being pressed)

Lymphoedema is often quote distressing when symptoms first appear and are very unlikely to improve without effective holistic management. Having a swollen limb also increases the likelihood of skin infections such as cellulitis, which if left untreated can create systemic problems, make you very unwell and make the swelling worse.

At Cairns Occupational Therapy, we complete a comprehensive initial assessment, taking into account your medical and surgical history, the nature of your swelling and how long your symptoms have been present. We will often work with your GP to create an effective and holistic management plan for your swelling.

We offer a range of treatments for lymphoedema

  • Multilayer compression bandaging or Coban2 bandaging to reduce the size of the limb
  • Prescription of compression garments to maintain the reductions achieved through bandages and to maintain results
  • Lymphatic massage (Manual Lymphatic Drainage)
  • Low Level Laser Therapy
  • Education on self massage and skin care
  • Education on exercises, central drainage/deep breathing exercises
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Optimising Recovery Post Mastectomy
Scar massage during optimising recovery post mastectomy

We can help you:

  • Improve your arm movement and prevent stiffness and tight muscles affecting your everyday tasks.
  • Improve the appearance of your scars and reduce the impact of your scarring on lymphatic drainage and shoulder movement.
  • Teach you how to improve your lymphatic drainage and reduce your risks of developing chronic oedema / lymphoedema.
  • Teach you self-management of lymphoedema via massage, exercises, compression bandaging / garments if necessary.

Treatment is often best begun pre-op or in the early weeks following surgery, but can be started at any time. Call to make an appointment.

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Work Rehabilitation
Worksite assessment
  • Functional Capacity Evaluations
  • Worksite/Ergonomic Assessments
  • Development and Monitoring of Graduated Return to Work Programs
  • Pre-employment Screenings
  • OHS Training
  • Medico-legal Assessments
  • Suitable Duties Programs
  • Injury Prevention Programs
  • Case Management Services
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Medicolegal Assessment
Work Rehab - lifting
Spine

We provide medicolegal assessments and reports for clients undergoing legal proceedings related to their injuries. Our focus is on how the individual’s activities of daily living and roles in life have been affected by the injury. This type of assessment may be performed at our office, within the workplace or at the individual’s home.

Medicolegal reports are comprehensive and objective, and report on the following:

  • History of the injury and pre-existing conditions
  • Education and Employment History
  • Client’s perceived capacities
  • Assessment of pain
  • Physical Assessment Findings - including range of motion, strength, sensation, hand function
  • Assessed Functional Capacities - including dynamic tolerances and weighted capacities
  • Summary of findings
  • Recommendations - particularly relating to work, activities of daily living, need for assistance or adaptive equipment / home modifications.
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Home Assessment
Home assessment

Our therapists frequently perform assessments at client's homes for those who have undergone changes in their physical or cognitive abilities from either injury or illness. The focus of a home assessment is to increase the client’s independence and safety.

  • Increase the safety and independence after an illness or injury
  • Prescription of adaptive equipment
  • Teaching different techniques for everyday actions
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Neurological Rehabilitation
Neurological treatment

Cognitive, physical and perceptual rehabilitation following neurological injury eg. head injury, stroke. The aim is to increase the client's ability to function independently and resume their usual roles in life

  • assessment and treatment of cognitive and perceptual problems eg. teaching compensation for affected memory, attention, planning skills
  • assessment and treatment of physical limitations such as increased tone, tremor, fine motor control, reduced strength
  • treatment may incorporate home assessments and return to work planning
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Burns and Scar Management
Burns and scar management
  • Management of burns and wounds
  • Individualised prescription of compression garments and silicone based products
  • Education on scar management
  • Monitoring of the scars and use of compression therapy over time to optimise the appearance of the scar
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Soft Tissue Injury Management
Optimising Wellness with Soft Tissue Releases

Using soft tissue treatment techniques and incorporating conventional and complementary therapies we can help you:

  • Improve signalling from your nervous system to all parts of your body, including your limbs, digestive and reproductive organs
  • Reduce muscle tension and teach strategies for self management of your body’s stressors which will help regulate your hormone levels
  • Assist you to modify your routines, habits and environment to facilitate a healthier lifestyle, greater productivity and reduce the risk of injury
  • Stop the niggling aches and pains affecting your sleep or turning into bigger problems
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