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Occupational therapists help individuals live life to its fullest

Hospital news | Wednesday, April 20, 2016

April is Occupational Therapy Month- a time to celebrate occupational therapy practitioners who help people of all ages live life to its fullest by helping them prevent or live better with injury, illness or disability. Occupational therapists provide valuable guidance to individuals to ensure success in everyday activities, such as dressing, bathing, and cooking. The goal of independence depends on the patient and what is important to them to succeed in life.

When working with an occupational therapy practitioner, strategies are customized for each individual to resolve problems, improve function, and support everyday living activities. Solutions may be adaptations for how to do a task, changes to the surroundings, or helping individuals to alter their own behaviors. Through therapeutic approaches, occupational therapy helps individuals design their lives, develop needed skills, adjust their environments (home, school, or work) and build health-promoting habits and routines that will allow them to thrive.

What's the difference between occupational therapy and physical therapy? Both professions may overlap, but they do still have their differences. Physical therapy focuses on the movement of the human body building strength in the lower body, improving balance, and increasing physical activity. Occupational therapy can strengthen muscles, but therapy also addresses activities of daily living, cognition, sensory integration and vision. Occupational therapy and physical therapy complement each other during rehabilitation.

Dayna Fiedler, an occupational therapy assistant student from Western Technical College in La Crosse recently completed an internship in the Occupational Therapy Department at Crossing Rivers Health. She shared, “Occupational therapy is my passion. I am impressed by everything and everyone at Crossing Rivers Health. The occupational therapy staff is incredible, and they really advocate for their patients. I feel very lucky to have been able to complete my fieldwork experience at such a beautiful facility, surrounded by positive, knowledgeable staff. There has been no better place to pursue my passion!”

Along with seeing inpatients and outpatients, the occupational therapy staff also works in a variety of settings including: homecare, school systems, and in homes with Birth-to-3. For additional information on the services and programs offered at Crossing Rivers Health and Crossing Rivers Health Clinics in Prairie du Chien and Fennimore, visit

Pictured: Occupational therapy staff at Crossing Rivers Health in Prairie du Chien is celebrating Occupational Therapy Month. Clockwise from left: Nathan Rickertsen, Occupational Therapist; Javier Alvarez, Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant; Angela Wagner, Occupational Therapist and Manager of the Occupational Therapy Department; Jill Koehn, Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant; and Crystal Keeney, Occupational Therapist.