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Occupational Therapy: A Powerful Treatment for Tourette Syndrome

Posted by Brian Spence on Jun 30, 2017 8:00:00 AM

Tourette Syndrome, Occupational Therapy, Allied HealthMany healthcare providers are now recommending a non-drug alternative for those who seek treatment for Tourette Syndrome. Tourette's is a neuro-developmental disorder that is most commonly recognized because it causes repetitive and involuntary muscle movements and/or speech patterns called "tics."

Along with tics, another common symptom is behavioral difficulties. However, through the use of Occupational Therapy (also known as OT), patients with Tourette's have seen great success in managing their tics and overcoming adverse behavioral responses.

Many occupational therapists use a combination of sensory methods and Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Tics, or CBIT. The Tourette Association of America recommends trying OT to control the symptoms of Tourette's. "Occupational therapists work with individuals (children and adults) who have limitations or interruptions to their daily life activities or 'occupations'."

If tics do interfere with an individual's daily activities, whether at school or work, occupational therapy can be incredibly beneficial not only in controlling tics and behavioral challenges, but also in reinforcing relaxation techniques. These calming strategies include proactive exercises that help individuals to manage tics on their own, freeing them from medication dependence and offering an accessible preventative method for both children and adults.

Below are just a few examples of how this form of therapy can treat Tourette Syndrome:

  • Expanding abilities: Gradually developing a multitude of key skills
  • Visual cues: Supporting routines and minimizing disruption when transitioning to new activities
  • Motor skills: Determining the current level of a individual's gross and fine motor abilities, which leads to goal-setting (see below)
  • Goals: Setting attainable functional targets in collaboration with the patient, so there is mutual investment in the benefits of OT
  • Task engagement: Providing alternative ways to motivate mind and body
  • Identifying focus areas: Increasing positive whole body and fine motor skills, through exercises that focus on body awareness, coordination, endurance, attention, and movement planning

In the behavioral health field, the use of this therapy to treat Tourette Syndrome is a transformative and powerful alternative to the traditional treatment options.

For more information on the benefits of occupational therapy or related topics, visit the Healthcare section of our blog.

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