Occupational therapists help patients recover and return to daily routines

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — You might not think about it much: Putting away dishes, folding laundry, or turning on the shower.

Those everyday tasks became difficult for one Mid-South man after he suffered a heart attack that nearly claimed his life.

After John Malone suffered a heart attack in January, he went from working out five times a week to not even being able to sit up without getting winded.

“When paramedics got there, the chest pain was unbearable,” Malone said. “When they placed me in the ambulance, they told me I flatlined for two minutes. After the heart attack, probably about 95 percent of the time, I was laying down.”

Malone now sees an occupational therapist with Regional One Health twice a week who is slowly getting him back to his everyday activities.

Occupational therapy teaches you how to adapt. It focuses on helping patients perform everyday living activities that we may take for granted. It can help you perform any kind of task at school, at work, or at your home.

“Activities of daily living would include basic things such as grooming, brushing your teeth, washing your hair, getting in and out of the tub,” Dardhielle Jean, an occupational therapist with Regional One Health, said.

Jean has been monitoring Malone’s progress.

She said occupational therapy is a step many people don’t think about after injury, but it can play a huge part in the recovery process.

“If there has been an injury or an illness or disability that changed an individual’s dependence, that’s a good indicator occupational therapy would be very healthy,” Jean said.

As for Malone, he’s excited to gain his strength back and said what he went through is a reminder to always listen to your body.

“I feel my energy, I feel my vitality, I feel the life again,” he said. “I feel I have a better chance to be successful.”

Occupational therapy isn’t just for people with physical problems.

Health experts say people who suffer from sensory or cognitive problems can also benefit.