Occupational Therapy Month: Meet Tripler Army Medical Center’s occupational therapists

By Amelia DicksonApril 13, 2023

(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

For the Occupational Therapy staff at Tripler Army Medical Center, one goal rises above the rest: helping their patients get back to normal, everyday life.

For some patients, that means redeveloping the strength required to stand at a counter and prepare meals. For others, it means developing range of motion in a hand or wrist so that they can accomplish work tasks. The department sees a wide variety of patients.

“We’re always trying to get that person back to full functionality,” said Maj. Michael McCaffrie, Occupational Therapy officer in charge. “That means at work, at home and in their everyday lives.”

With April being Occupational Therapy Month, the team is working to raise awareness regarding their field. Occupational therapy is a science-driven, evidence-based profession that enables people of all ages to participate in daily living or live life to the fullest. Patients often see occupational therapists as they recover and learn to live with injuries, illnesses or disabilities.

At Tripler Army Medical Center, occupational therapists provide both inpatient and outpatient services. They treat active duty military members, military family members and retirees.

Nicole Morimoto, an inpatient occupational therapist, said her job largely centers on getting patients home after a hospital stay, often due to a medical emergency. Or, she works with patients to ensure they’re strong enough to move into an rehabilitation facility.

“A lot of what we’re doing is working on self care and mobilization,” Morimoto said.

Much of the clinic’s outpatient work focuses on patients working to optimize functional use of their hands and arms while facing conditions such as carpal tunnel, tendonitis, fractures and lacerations. This can involve helping military members develop the strength and mobility to fire a weapon, McCaffrie said.

Patients can also receive occupational therapy to assist with lymphedema, which can result from cancer, surgeries and other trauma. The clinic also offers behavioral health occupational therapy and pediatric occupational therapy.

Learn more about Tripler Army Medical Center Occupational Therapy here: