Embracing Heart Health at Home: The Role of OTs and PTs During American Heart Month
Cardiovascular disease (CVD), encompassing conditions like Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) and heart disease, significantly impacts daily life and requires specialized care strategies. Occupational Therapists (OTs) and Physical Therapists (PTs) play crucial roles in home health settings, focusing on the patient’s independence and quality of life for those managing these cardiovascular conditions.
Physical Therapists focus on cardiovascular health and physical endurance, ensuring the patient can complete daily activities without becoming short of breath. Specific exercises aim to strengthen patients’ physical capabilities, reducing heart strain, and reducing the risk of complications. Just like any muscle, the heart needs to be worked in the right way; doing too much or too little can be detrimental. With these exercises it proves to the patient that because they have been diagnosed with a “scary” or “life-long” disease they can still complete their activities of daily living (ADL). Continuing to build confidence in themselves slowly to ensure that they are able to return to the things they love to do and not have to live in fear or regret. Physical Therapists specialize in bringing quality to days, in conjunction to all other care providers bringing days to life.
Occupational Therapists complement this by helping patients navigate instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) with greater ease. They provide adaptive techniques and tools for safer, more independent living, ensuring patients can manage their daily tasks and live safely in their homes. They are crucial in building the patient’s confidence in not letting the disease affect who they are as a person. For example, putting shoes, socks, and clothes on without working too hard to tire the patient out before starting their day. Ensuring that the patient knows when to take breaks and offering guidance on home modifications to enhance accessibility and safety with tasks around the house.
Together, OTs and PTs offer a holistic approach to care, combining physical rehabilitation with practical daily living solutions. They are hands-on with the family and patient more than most other care providers, playing a key role in education about managing heart disease effectively at home.
The feedback from those who have experienced integrated care approaches in cardiac rehabilitation (CR) is highly positive. A study highlighted that patients perceived long-term benefits from their participation, which positively impacted their disease-related knowledge, promoted functional gains, and improved psychosocial well-being. Structured educational interventions within these programs were particularly beneficial, contributing to the long-term maintenance of heart-healthy behaviors and better overall outcomes. These insights underscore the value of a combined OT and PT regimen, not only in facilitating recovery but also in fostering a return to a fulfilling lifestyle.
In conclusion, the roles of OTs and PTs in home health settings are vital for improving the lives of those with CVD. Their combined expertise not only enhances physical health but also ensures a safer and more independent lifestyle for patients.
The best approach in treating any patient is to have an interdisciplinary team doing what they do best and encouraging referral to the correct provider in their time of need.
1. Moulson N, Bewick D, Selway T, Harris J, Suskin N, Oh P, Coutinho T. A qualitative study of patient’s perceptions of two cardiac rehabilitation models. Patient Educ Couns. 2015;98(6):768-774. doi:10.1016/j.pec.2015.03.002
2. Dalal HM, Doherty P, Taylor RS. Cardiac rehabilitation. BMJ. 2015;351:h5000. doi:10.1136/bmj.h5000
Mathew Kovalchick DPT, OCS