Abstract

Patients with low back pain are among the largest group of health care consumers today. During an episode of acute back pain the patient may be hospitalized for diagnostic workup and medical management, processes to which occupational therapists can contribute. The occupational therapist’s evaluation includes assessment of the patient’s activities of daily living and understanding of back protection and pain behaviors. The therapist involves the patient in managing his or her back problem by teaching problem-solving skills and identifying appropriate life-style changes. Instruction is provided in proper body mechanics, anatomy of the spine, work simplification, relaxation, and adaptive methods of performing daily activities. Given the short hospitalization period, outpatient follow-up may be provided to facilitate the application of information learned in the hospital to home and work settings. The goal of occupational therapy is to help the patient with low back pain return to a productive life-style.

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