AFA Ambassador, Lisa Licciardi, is both a registered Occupational Therapist and qualified Personal Trainer. In her current role as an OT, she applies her knowledge and skills gained from her Certificate III & IV in Fitness to help prescribe the best possible exercise programs for her clients. Find out how she uses both her OT and PT expertise to help make a difference to her clients’ lives through improving the “little things”:
While readers may be a little puzzled as to what is meant by “Occupational Performance”, put simply, it is one’s ability to perform their everyday activities that they need and want to do. One of the first aspects to my initial consultation with clients is asking about their work, leisure and other pursuits. Establishing an understanding as to what is important to their day, week, month or even year is critical to understanding the person sitting in front of you and what drives them to perform. Such understandings can give you insights into their physicality and also their overall health and well-being; not only pertaining to the body, but also the mind. A big part of the consultation process is learning about your client and how they “tick”! It is from here that I focus my discussion and instruction from here on in around empowering the client. So how exactly do I achieve this? In addition to tailoring an exercise program to support the client’s specific goals related to their gym sign up, I also use their everyday activities as a point of connection for my exercise prescription.
To explain this application, consider an example, a 50-year-old female who works as a legal secretary that performs clerical based duties at a desk all day. I will consider possible biomechanical considerations where relevant, to help the client see my choice of exercises in supporting her occupational performance with her work. Areas such as prolonged sitting and postural considerations. A focus on core stability and engagement, in addition to posterior chain work could be a component of the client’s program. To extend this application, this may support the client with improved seating posture and increased feelings of energy to carry out her work day.
Another example could be a 70-year-old man who is challenged by poor balance and lower limb weakness. Including exercises that work on these areas can assist the client with everyday self-care tasks, such as transferring on/off the toilet, feeling more stable when sitting and standing at his favourite lounge chair, and even falls prevention. Exercises including supported balance work and functional leg exercises can work beautifully together as part of the client’s exercise regime.
Client’s often say to me, “it’s the little things that make such a difference to my day”. I am passionate about improving the performance of these everyday “little things”, as they can have a large impact on one’s life outside the gym environment.