Q:  What is occupational therapy? 
A:  Occupational therapy is a holistic profession of 'acting and doing.'  Occupational therapists (OTs) use assessment and intervention to develop, recover, or maintain the meaningful activities, or occupations, of individuals, groups, or communities.  The word "occupation" can be defined as anything an individual does to "occupy" their time.  It is interchangeable with "activity," and is often correlated to activities of daily living (ADLs).  OTs have an advanced understanding in their foundational education in performed activity analysis and environmental analysis, combined with a depth of understanding regarding anatomy, physiology, neuro-cognitive, and psycho-emotional functions and dysfunctions.  

FAQs:

 
Q:  What is the difference between pelvic floor PHYSICAL therapy and OCCUPATIONAL therapy?
A:  Both disciplines of occupational therapy and physical therapy are eligible to pursue an advanced practice specialization in the area of pelvic floor rehabilitation.  Neither discipline is provided the necessary extended education on the topic of the pelvic floor during their foundational academic education, and therefor all practitioners (PT or OT) choosing to specialize in this practice area must undergo the same specialized training of internal and external manual assessment and intervention.  In essence, each discipline is providing the same method of intervention.  
 
The PT naturally draws upon their specific foundational knowledge as expects in physical anatomy and functional movement; while the OT draws upon their specific foundational knowledge of day-to-day activities including sexual activity and toileting functions, as well as their extensive knowledge of the psychosocial and emotional variables that impact the ability to execute these meaningful tasks. As all PFDs are enormously biopsychosocial (body, brain, cultural) each discipline has to stretch well beyond their foundational knowledge to effectively learn all that is necessary in addressing the client's complex needs. 
 
Q:  What is the pelvic floor?
A:  The pelvic floor (PF) is comprised of the bony landmarks of the pelvis and the muscles + connective tissue that lie within.  These muscles + connective tissues stretch like a hammock, connecting at the pubis (front of the pelvis), coccyx (tailbone, or base of the spine), and from side-to-side at the ischial tuberosities (the bony prominences of the butt).  The PF is one aspect of the three-dimensional structure of 'the core.'  
 
Q:  What is pelvic floor dysfunction?
A:  The pelvic floor (PF) has three primary functions: 1.) to provide stability to the structures of the hip and back; 2.) to keep the pelvic organs supported and within the pelvic cavity, and 3.) to contract (hold) and relax (open) to allow for the proper retention and elimination of human waste (from bowel and bladder), and to allow for sexual function and childbirth.  Pelvic floor dysfunction (PDF) occurs when one of these primary functions is compromised, likely due to a lack of strength, flexibility, coordination, or control.  The process of carrying and birthing a baby is one of the leading causes of PFD in women.  Some common symptoms of PFD are: chronic pain in the pelvic region, pain with sexual activity, strong or frequent urge to urinate, inability to hold urine or stool without leakage, chronic constipation or painful straining with defecation, and a sense of "heaviness" or "dropping" in the vagina.  
 
Q:  What are the benefits of breastfeeding? 
A:  Breastfeeding has positive impacts for the infant, the lactating mother, and society as a whole.  For the baby, human breastmilk is optimal nutrition for human babies, it provides all of the needed macro and micronutrients necessary for optimal infant growth. These nutrient levels adjust within the lactating parent's biology to offer the infant the exact levels of nutrient density as is necessary for that period of their growth and development.  Antibodies that are being produced within the lactating parent's biology is directly transferred to the infant via the production of milk, which enables the strengthening of the baby's immune system.  The research tells us that there is excellent evidence to support the benefits of breastmilk in reducing the three leading causes of infant hospitalization and appointment with a pediatrician: inner ear infections, respiratory infections, and necrotizing enterocolitis (a digestive infection).  
 
For all the details on the benefits of breastfeeding PLEASE join me for a free prenatal breastfeeding class, or considering joining the Educational Membership to access online video lectures on all of these topics and much much more. 
 
Q:  Which is right, "Breast is Best" or "Fed is Best"?
A:  This is a conversation that you will hear often if you are embarking on this journey.  There is no debate, FED is always best -- because the alternative is starving.  No one wants babies to starve.  Getting babies the calories they need to gain and grow is the number one priority of every healthcare professional working with the breastfeeding dyad (mother-baby pair). As a lactation educator and counselor, it is my emphatic desire to help all parents who feel the desire to be successful with the breastfeeding journey accomplish their goals and feel empowered in their choice.  Giving mom and dad all the facts about breastfeeding and allowing them to make the right choice for their family is what I am here to do -- not to push my own agenda.  The breastfeeding journey can be hard for so many women, don't let it feel impossible because you feel unsupported. 
 
Q:  What is postpartum depression?
A:  Postpartum depression (PPD) is an episode of major depression that typically occurs within the first year following the birth (or adoption) of a child.  This is a serious medical condition that research indicates affects nearly 20% of all postpartum women.  A condition known as "baby blues" is considered less serious period of depressed affect, in that it usually presents for less than a two week period, and impacts 80% of all postpartum women.  PPD does not alway look like "sad" -- it can present as anxious, angry, irritable, exhausted, apathetic, emotionally labile, obsessive compulsive, and so much more.  The key feature in PPD is that the parent (dads can develop PPD as well) do not usually recognize their symptoms as "depressed" -- they simply feel that they are failing.  
 
Q:  Are occupational therapists mental health professionals?
A:  Yes, occupational therapists (OTs) are mental health professionals.  However, we are not psychiatrists.  We do not diagnose mental health conditions, and we do not prescribe a course of medical action (pharmaceutical or otherwise).  What we do do is work collaboratively with your diagnosing mental health expert to create a plan of care that is appropriately within the scope of the OT profession.  What this includes is closely related to understanding and modifying the day-to-day lived experience of the individual, making adaptations and cognitive behavioral connections for actionable intervention.  
 
Q:  What is "Integrative" healthcare and wellness?
A:  The United States National Institutes of Health (NIH) define integrative medicine as "An approach to health care that brings conventional (western) and complementary (eastern) approaches together in a coordinated way.  Integrative healthcare emphasizes a holistic, patient-focused approach to health care and wellness—often including mental, emotional, functional, spiritual, social, and community aspects—and treating the whole person rather than, for example, one organ system."
 
Q:  What is Lifestyle Medicine?
A:  The American College of Lifestyle Medicine defines lifestyle medicine as "the use of a whole food, plant-predominant dietary lifestyle, regular physical activity, restorative sleep, stress management, avoidance of risky substances and positive social connection as a primary therapeutic modality for treatment and reversal of chronic disease."  
 
Q:  What is Functional Medicine?
A:  Functional Medicine, much like Lifestyle Medicine, looks closely at the day-to-day lived reality of the individual to approach healthcare in a holistic and client specific way.  A systems biology–based approach that focuses on identifying and addressing the root cause of disease is at the heart of what Functional Medicine aims to achieve, and it underscores the belief that all symptoms of dysfunction are related in the various systems within the body. 
 
Q:  What is Ayurveda?
A:  Ayurvedic Medicine, or "Ayurveda" for short, is one of the world's oldest holistic healing systems (over 3,000 years) originating from India. The Sanskrit word is a combination of "ayur" meaning "life," and "veda" meaning "science, or knowledge" -- in combination, they are the science of living.  This ancient system draws upon the core belief that health is derived from the balance of mind, body, and spirit.  It is the sister science of Yoga, and adds depth to yogic philosophy of practice by offering a complimentary approach to lifestyle medicine. 
 
Q:  What is Medical Therapeutic Yoga?
A:  Medical Therapeutic Yoga (MTY) uses the ancient system of yoga in synergy with the contemporary lens of the western healthcare profession, making it an ideal model for integrative bio-psycho-social care.  MTY takes existing evidence-based practice and streamlines clinical assessment and management to improve patient satisfaction and outcomes. 

As a certified Professional Yoga Therapist (PYT) – a certification only eligible to qualifying healthcare professionals – the traditional healthcare provider is able to use yoga as a lens by which to assess and treat diagnoses within their scope of practice.  In the OT framework, this is an ideal practice tool for addressing mindfulness based stress reduction through Vagus nerve activation, promotion of sustained parasympathetic response, and down-training of the fight-or-flight circuit.  Additionally, it has enormous benefits in retraining neuromuscular patterning, mechanic optimization, increasing proprioceptive awareness, and improved interoception.  While simultaneously building strength, endurance, coordination, and flexibility in a acute or chronic period of dysfunction, or within the well population.  It is the skilled background of the MTY practitioner that makes MTY different than a walk-in yoga experience, as it is what guides the decisions to design a client-centered yogic practice tailored to the unique need of the individual. 

 
 
Q:  What is a 'restorative' vs. a 'maintenance' program? 
A:  When an individual has experienced a change in their baseline function, usually because of illness, injury, disability, or functional circumstance, then a rehabilitative program would be designed to restore the individual to that prior baseline of functional performance.  When an individual is otherwise functioning independently and optimal, but they wish to create a protocol or program that helps them to maintain that level of function, this would be considered a 'maintenance program.'  Maintenance programs usually address the reasonable waxing and waning of day-to-day performance -- like a regularly scheduled massage or other bodywork to help with circumstantially accumulated stress or tightness. 
Q:  What is Myofascial Release? 
A:  Fascia is delicate connective tissue that exists throughout the three-dimensional body.  While delicate in its web-like presentation, this structure can place enormous tensile pressure -- approximately 2,000 lbs per square inch -- on delicate structures within the body: muscle, bone, nerve, artery and vein, even our internal organ systems, including heart, lungs, brain, and spinal cord. 
 
Myofascial Release (MFR) is a gentle, effective, hands-on technique used in applying sustained pressure to the myofascial connective tissues and surrounding structures to decrease restrictions or adhesions that may exist within or between.  This approach helps to eliminate pain and restore movement in the affected area. 
 
Q:  What is Visceral Manipulation? 
A:  The viscera of the body are our internal organs --  particularly those that reside within the abdominal and pelvic cavities (i.e., stomach, small intestine, large intestine, liver, kidneys, bladder, rectum, uterus, etc.).  Visceral manipulation is a technique that allows the practitioner to facilitate sustained pressure to the connective tissues (fascia) that surround each organ structure to reduce restrictions or adhesions and increase intra-cavity articulation along their gliding surfaces.  This technique allows for improved organ system function and diminished pain when structures that may be holding the tissue out of alignment are repositioned and returned to a more balanced alignment. 
 
Q:  What is 'energy work'? 
A:  Ancient health systems from around the world all have words that refer to the vital life force of the body, its energy.  In India, Ayurvedic Medicine and Yogic practices refer to Prana.  In Traditional Chinese Medicine, this life force is known as Chi or Qi.  In Japanese healing, the word is similar, Ki. Each of these systems has a method of moving, feeling, and promoting the essential flow of this life giving element of 'energy.'  These systems of moving the vital life force are what "energy work" is all about. 
 
Q:  What is Reiki? 
A:  Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. It is administered by gently placing hands upon the body, and is based upon the philosophy that an unseen life force energy (ki) flows through all of us and is what allows us to be alive.  If one's ki is low, then the individual is believed to be at a higher risk for stress, illness, and strain.  When one's ki is high, the individual is likely to be able to achieve greater health and happiness. 
 
Q:  What is Kahi Loa? 
A:  Kahi Loa is part of the ancient Hawai'ian system of bodywork and spiritual practices. While this form of bodywork does involve placing hands upon the body in a rhythmic fashion, it is much more than a bodywork practice -- it aims to harmonize the mind with the natural elements that exist upon the sacred Earth, and that each imbibes a specific energetic force.  The belief that each of these elements draws their vital life force from the same source is what harmonizes the human element with each other, finding the connection and oneness within each is the aspiration of the practice.  
 
Q:  What is Qigong? 
A:  Qigong is a mind-body-spirit movement practice that falls within the centuries old practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine.  The practice aims to improve one's mental and physical health by integrating posture, movement, breathing techniques, self-massage, sound, and focused intent.  In this practice, movement in the flow of vital life force (Qi) is accomplished through focused intent and personal cultivation of practice.