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Young patients with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can benefit significantly from support from an occupational therapist, new research has proven.
Doctors from the University of South California's Mrs T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy have published the initial results of an intervention programme entitled Resilient, Empowered, Active Living (REAL) with Diabetes, designed to ensure young people with the condition are able to manage it effectively.
Children and teenagers with diabetes often don't fully comprehend the extent of the health risks associated with diabetes mismanagement, but it was found that close support from occupational therapists can help significantly.
These healthcare professionals can work closely with young diabetes patients to support them in managing the condition, discuss any concerns they have about their illness and educate them on the activities and lifestyle changes that would benefit their health over the long term.
During the REAL Diabetes study, participants were divided into two groups. One benefited from at least ten hours' worth of sessions with an occupational therapist over a six-month period, while the other received one home visit from an occupational therapist, followed by pamphlets and telephone conversations set to a script.
Participants also had their blood tested throughout the programme, with the researchers finding that their haemoglobin A1c levels improved markedly in the group who received occupational therapist intervention.
What's more, these patients' quality of life - measured through the Audit of Diabetes Dependent Quality of Life - also improved and they became better at self-monitoring their blood sugar levels compared to those in the telephone support group.
As a result, this demonstrates that working alongside an occupational therapist can have significant benefits for young people who are getting to grips with managing their diabetes for the first time by themselves.
Elizabeth Pyatak, lead author of the study, commented: "Occupational therapists are the experts of choice when it comes to the intersection of everyday activities, lifestyle and better management of chronic diseases.
"The REAL Diabetes study validates our distinct contributions on every diabetes care team and shows the real differences occupational therapy can make."
Written by Alex Franklin Stortford
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