Videos of exact techniques! Treatment ideas for #OTs working on dressing with their adult patients. | #geratricOT #occupationaltherapy #occupationaltherapist #occupationaltherapyassistant

Theraband Dressing Techniques

One quick occupational therapy tip is to use theraband (or any other resistance bands!) to simulate dressing with your patients when actually completing the occupation of dressing is not an option. In this post, we will be going though how to use this to practice putting on a button shirt, pants and a bra.

Occupation based tasks are always top priority, but sometimes this cannot be done, so replication of a task (purposeful activity in the occupational therapy world) is a close second! This can come up in a number of scenarios such as:

  • the patient is resistant to get dressed/undressed since they are already dressed for the day
  • cultural and religious considerations
  • limitations on time
  • no privacy in workplace/gym area

Using resistance bands to practice dressing in OT | #geratricOT #occupationaltherapy #occupationaltherapist #occupationaltherapyassistant

Using a theraband for dressing can focus on range of motion, problem solving, dynamic sitting balance, safety, ADL task components, etc of donning a shirt, pants and bra.

I also make sure I have some theraband in the basket that I carry around from room to room when working with patients that have had a stroke. This eliminates running back and forth for items and it is just so versatile! In addition, this technique is also highlighted in this ADL treatment guide by the Note Ninjas.

ADL Treatment Guide is broken down by type of ADL (dressing, toileting, self-feeding, etc). Then under each category they list skills required and preparatory treatment ideas, so you can improve your skilled treatment and documentation with ADL's.

Before we get started on each specific technique, just keep in mind that there are a lot of theraband colors. It doesn't matter what color you choose, just know that different colors mean different resistances and some colors will be less or more "stretchy" than others.

Working on Donning + Doffing a Button Up Shirt with a Theraband

  1. First tie the resistance band's ends together to make a big circle
  2. Take the middle of the band and ties a knot, resulting in 2 loops
  3. Feed one loop on the opposite arm so it is up on the shoulder
  4. Have them reach back (internal rotation) to grab the other loop behind them
  5. Pull it up so it is up on both shoulders

Working on Donning + Doffing Pants

  1. First tie the resistance band's ends together to make a big circle
  2. Double it if it is too big, making sure it is the size that the waistband would be on a pair of pants
  3. Practice pulling up and down/taking off as you would with regular pants
  4. Utilize adaptive equipment such as a reacher, if appropriate

Working on Donning + Doffing a Bra

  1. First tie the resistance band's ends together to make a big circle
  2. Wrap the band around the mid part of the patient's rib cage (where the base of the bra would be)
  3. Tie the band in the front so it is secured to their body
  4. Practice rotating band around rib cage so the tie is in the back

Bonus Theraband Dressing Tip:

It might be helpful to use a little bit of baby powder on the band if you are finding it is sticking too much to the patient's clothes

Videos of exact techniques! Using theraband to work on dressing in OT | #geratricOT #occupationaltherapy #occupationaltherapist #occupationaltherapyassistant

Do you have any other ideas to work on dressing without actually dressing? Comment below!
Hidden Content

Comments 25

  1. I’ve been using the old method of donning a gown backwards for years. These method seems a bit more practical since the gowns are so oversized. I’ll have to try this out with my hospital patients.

    1. I think it isn’t always the best way, but definitely something to keep in your pocket in a pinch!

  2. Pingback: 10 Items For an Occupational Therapy Stroke Intervention Basket | Seniors Flourish

  3. Pingback: Occupation Based & Functional Approaches in SNF | Seniors Flourish

  4. I love this…but I’ve never worked at a company that uses this type of theraband….we always use the flat type. This is so awesome

    1. Yes, it works great for the right type of patient if true occupation based dressing task cannot be done! I bet you could use it with regular tband too 🙂

  5. This is a great idea. While working in a SNF, the DOR wouldn’t let us practice dressing with oversized clothes due to infection control ( I know, you can just wash them after…but she just didn’t like it. Also it can be time consuming). So I used therabands, since I could easily disinfect immediately after tx before using with another pt.

    1. Hi Pris…oh, the rules and regulations of facilities, right?!?! 🙂 Glad the theraband was an alternative that worked for you!

  6. I think this is a great idea! I have found from working with people post stroke that it can be essential to break down personal care activities into components to work on individually prior to practicing the whole shower/dress routine. Diving straight into doing a full shower/dress session with someone post stroke, depending on the type of stroke, can often be too tiring and the person gains nothing from the session because they are too fatigued. I have found that smaller, more frequent ‘dry-run’ dressing practise sessions are more useful to begin with, prior to grading up the sessions to include more of the routine. Using theraband to simulate components of dressing is a great way to introduce new dressing strategies, and then incorporate it into a proper ADL session when the person is ready. Thanks for the great idea!

    1. I agree Emma – we need to use our activity analysis skills to determine appropriate area of the task which displays the breakdown to specifically work on that exact component!

  7. Thank you for the video. I am an OTA student and English is my second lenguage. I am currently stuggling with documentation because I don’t have the vocabulary. Please help!

  8. I find myself in similar situations during dressing training. I found that a pair of 2X women’s or men’s XL nylon track pants work well over already
    donned pants. The trick here is making sure the track pants are not lined as those will grab their already donned pants.
    The theraband technique works with the higher cognitive functioning patients.

  9. I am a male OT who has recently transitioned to Home Health therapy from many years in the Acute Care and In-Patient Rehabilitation setting. Back in the hospital or rehab center, I had little trouble working with female patients on dressing tasks. Pretty much every day started with 2-3 “ADL sessions” and it was seldom a problem and there were always other staff near enough by to keep me covered ethically and the patient comfortable. Most patients took the attitude that, “in the hospital everyone gets to see you naked” even though I desperately DID NOT want to see them that way if I could help it and tried to keep them covered as much as possible! We OT’s probably know more than anyone what the ravages of time and gravity can do to the human body and it’s not pleasant. In that setting I was just another medical professional working with them among many.

    In the patient’s home, I find myself struggling to address ongoing dressing issues because I am often alone with them in their homes and therapy takes place in the living room more often than not. In addition, I’m a guest in their home and have got less than an hour to establish rapport and trust, complete my evaluation, and try to work-in some sort of skilled intervention to carry them over from one visit to the next, often the following week. I go into all of that to say that not every encounter lends itself to the actual hands-on, real deal, textbook bathing and dressing scenario we’d like in a perfect world.

    This is a great idea! I can see myself using something similar even as a screening tool during initial assessment. Most everyone claims they can dress themselves, but often it’s just that they are uncomfortable donning/doffing clothes in the home environment. Even using something like my gait belt fitted to their waist size could help me assess if they can truly reach their feet or thread a leg into a waistband.

    Your doubled theraband loop could be knotted on the front side as well for the patient to practice threading their arms into the straps and pulling them over the shoulders after twisting the ‘fastener’ side to the back.

    1. Thanks for the feedback Thom 🙂 I agree, we need to have tools in our toolbox because every situation is not ideal. Great idea for the doubled theraband as well – thanks! I love putting our heads together and getting creative.

  10. TheraBand and real clothes have nothing in common. A patient can make progress “donning” TheraBand but that does not translate into improved dressing skills. Try this: use scrub pants big enough to pull over the patient’s own pants. If your facility’s laundry can’t be depended on to return the scrubs to you, consider buying disposable scrub pants. Cut the legs short if necessary so your patient can have initial success. Heck, cut a whole leg off if you have to. Treat away. Use lab jackets or the patient’s own sweater/jacket for UB dressing. Save the bra for therapy in the patient’s room. Bottom line: stop the pretending. Too many patients will see pulling up a loop of TheraBand as nonsense, not dressing practice. I would hazard a guess that OT/OTAs who use TBand also think cutting Theraputty on a plate is a logical substitute for feeding training.

    1. Thank you for the feedback Timothy. I completely agree! Yes, we are OCCUPATIONAL therapy practitioners and our core is occupation based activities. What this post is trying to accomplish is to help fill a practitioner’s toolbox to give them more treatment ideas. As part of our Occupational Therapy Practice Framework, we are trained to be able to include preparatory, purposeful and occupation based treatments in order to accomplish the patient’s occupational goals.

      36% of my reader base are international occupational therapy practitioners and I receive emails daily, asking for more treatment ideas. Many describe limited funds for equipment, cultural barriers including modesty and providing treatment in less than ideal situations.

      I, personally, have worked in a clinic that was literally nothing more than a converted closet to provide occupational therapy services. I feel we need to provide the absolute best client-centered treatments that we can given the environmental, contextual or cultural barriers and use our activity analysis skills to provide the best “just right ” challenge to meet the needs of our patients.

      1. I agree that in many of the facilities I cover, we literally have no dressing materials at our disposal so simulated dressing sometimes has to do. Many times, even with explaining why I would prefer dressing in the patient’s room, they are tired and don’t want to have to get dressed all over again in the afternoon, so I think it’s great to have these alternative methods to still address the patient’s goals. Thanks, Mandy, for sharing these intervention ideas for those of us without the supplies or when we’re in a bind!

  11. For better documentation… keep a little notebook, when you read a great note, copy down the pertinent phrases, you can incorporate these small pieces to describe the things you are already doing, but aren’t great at describing yet. Also, the better you are acquainted with the OTPF, the better your documentation will be!
    Great dressing video, thanks!!

    1. oooooh. Great idea Erika! I agree, understanding the OT Practice Framework, can definitely help direct documentation.

  12. Thank you. I am a COTA and I use the theraband when clients are already dressed but never thought about tying in the middle as pant legs. Thank you.

    1. Thanks for the reminder Sharae! We definitely need to make sure all documentation focuses on what we are doing, why we are doing it, and establishing how we are performing a “skilled” service. Why ARE we working on forward flexion, dynamic sitting balance, or fine motor activities? Function! Preparatory and purposeful activities can be a part our treatments, but we need to always be using them as a means to the ultimate goal of occupation.

  13. Love these ideas! I am a recent COTA graduate and trying to improve on daily tx notes. Any recommendations on how to document or key words/phrases to use when documenting? Thank you so much!

    1. I USE Techniques similar to this and I usually say something along the lines of “requiring mod assist for threading/unthreading arm/legs into band during simulated donning/doffing pants/shirt”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *