Author Archive for: jentwistle


Coping with COVID — Finding the New Normal

In the following video, the team at FunctionAbility discusses the emotions of COVID and provides helpful strategies to help people cope through uncertain times.

For more helpful information check out our Coping with COVID video series on our YouTube channel.

About the Experts:

Brenda Power Ahmad, BSc(OT), BSc(Hons Psych), OT Reg.(Ont.), – Brenda obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in 1999 in Occupational Therapy from Dalhousie University and a Bachelor of Science (Honors) degree in Psychology in 1996 from Memorial University of Newfoundland. Brenda also completed post-secondary education in the fields of Criminology and Linguistics. Brenda has been practicing occupational therapy since 1999 in the provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador, and Ontario. She has extensive experience working with people of all ages with a variety of developmental and physical disabilities and works mainly with clients who have complex orthopedic, psychological and brain injuries. Brenda is trained in administration of the AMPS and the PGAP program and is a Canadian Certified Canadian Life Care Planner. She has completed additional training in catastrophic assessment through the Canadian Society of Medical Evaluators and has successfully completed the C-CAT Certification exam. Brenda sits on the Board of Directors for the Hamilton Brain Injury Association. As Vice President of Clinical and Community Partnerships in one the largest rehabilitation firms in Ontario, Brenda is responsible for training and mentoring other therapists and also leads the Catastrophic Assessment (CAT) program at FunctionAbility. Brenda maintains an active social media presence and co-hosts an educational video series called OT-V which aims at educating the public about the various roles of her profession.

Lynne Harford, BA, MSW, RSW, D.VATI is a Registered Social Worker, Director of Pediatrics and a Clinical Supervisor with The Social Work Consulting Group. She obtained a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Toronto and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Glendon College-York University. Prior to her university studies, Lynne pursued a career in business and received a Marketing Administration Diploma from Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology. In 2013, Lynne achieved her designation of Art Therapist graduating with an advanced diploma in Art Therapy from the Vancouver Art Therapy Institute.

Emma Fogel, MSW, RSW is a Registered Social Worker with a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Toronto. Emma’s true passion is working with youth and families whereby she draws upon an eclectic framework to provide client-centered counseling support, which includes Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Dialectical Behavioural Therapy, Mindfulness-Based Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy and Play. Wendy Gage MSW, RSW is a registered social worker with a Master of Social Work Degree from the University of Toronto. She received her Honours Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at the University of Western Ontario with a focus on child development. Wendy is a certified Emotionally Focused Couples Therapist (EFT) with advanced training in EFT for families, individuals and trauma. Wendy has training in child-led play therapy (Watch, Wait and Wonder) for children ages 6 months to 6 years. Wendy joined The Social Work Consulting Group with 18 years’ experience practicing clinical social work on the Neurology Program at The Hospital for Sick Children. At Sick Kids, she developed expertise in child and family adjustment to illness, loss and trauma. Wendy has participated in research, teaching and speaking events related to pain management for headaches, managing behavior in children with neurological conditions, and long-term family functioning and adjustment to children’s neurological conditions. She was invited to provide input to the provincial government on gaps in service to children with mental health conditions arising from neurological illness and injury.


Building a Better Dummy

Check out this interesting article care of CBC News that discusses how the traditional design of crash test dummies may be the reason why it is more likely for a female to sustain serious to fatal injuries in an automobile collision and how “building a better dummy” may be the key to resolving this inequality.

CBC News:  Why life-saving improvements to car safety have benefited men more than women


Nutrition Month O-Tip of the Week: Simple Swaps for Sugary Drinks

Our O-Tip of the week series we will be providing valuable “OT-Approved Life Hacks” to provide you with simple and helpful solutions for living. 

For the month of March, Nutrition Month, our O-Tip series will help you find simple ways to improve nutrition in every meal!

We all know water can get boring sometimes –but there are some great ways to make it a little more exciting, without turning to sugary drinks!  Try swapping pop or your other sugar-filled favourite for mineral water with slices of citrus fruit, hot water with lemon, or water that is infused with watermelon, cucumber or berries!  These delicious swaps are flavour-filled and better for you!


What is a Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP)?

Guest Blogger:  Marie Phillips HBA, RRC, CFDS
Marie is a licensed financial planner with IPC Securities Corporation (CIPF member)

It is tax time…are you eligible for, or have you considered, contributing to a Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP)?  

Anyone with a disability, or who has a family member with a disability, or who works with people who are disabled can attest to how expensive solutions for living can be.  Medical equipment, assistive devices, therapy, home and vehicle modifications, and care can cost thousands to hundreds of thousands over a lifetime.  It is important that people with disabilities consider all the financial options available and try to “maximize any freebies” if they can.

A Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) helps individuals with disabilities save for their retirement on a tax-deferred basis, with the added boost of federal grants.  Learn more about RDSP’s in the following infographic care of IPC Securities Corporation and contact a financial advisor to discuss solutions available to you.


Caregiving in Canada

According to recent research over eight million Canadians act as a caregiver to a family member or friend, and these numbers are expected to grow with time.  The following article care of the Hamilton Spectator provides an overview of the research compiled in the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA) and discusses the rising demand for home care providers.

Hamilton Spectator:  Report highlights growing burden of care for seniors


Nutrition Month O-Tip of the Week: Put Away the Peeler

Our O-Tip of the week series we will be providing valuable “OT-Approved Life Hacks” to provide you with simple and helpful solutions for living. 

For the month of March, Nutrition Month, our O-Tip series will help you find simple ways to improve nutrition in every meal!

If you’re looking to get the most out of the fruits and vegetables you eat look no further than the skins.  Though some are not edible many are, and the skins (or peels) often contain the most nutrients as they are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants!  So go ahead and enjoy everything your fruit and veggies have to offer – just be sure to wash them thoroughly first!


Weekly Mind Bender

Molly, Jimmy and Sally are in a competition. Here are their results:

  • The youngest person received the least points.
  • Jimmy got half of the points of the eldest.
  • Sally received as many points as both others combined.

Based on this information, who is the eldest?



Six Simple Ways to Improve Nutrition As A Team

Julie Entwistle, C.Dir. (c), MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

It is no secret that obesity is on the rise across North America.  In fact, a 2014 study shows that obesity now accounts for 8.6% of youth and 25% of the adult population.  (Després, Alméras, & Gauvin, 2014)   The leading causes of this “obesity epidemic” are sedentary lifestyles, lack of physical activity and poor nutritional choices.

With the stressful lives being led by our generation, taking time to prepare and bring healthy lunches and snacks to work is difficult.  Yet, without a healthy snack or lunch, the tendency is to purchase food that is not healthy, or to under-eat which, believe it or not, can also cause obesity as our body works to “hold onto” every calorie in fear of starvation.

Employers may ask “why do I care if my team is eating unhealthy”, but the answer is obvious:  a healthy workforce is a productive workforce and workplace absences for health-related problems (including obesity, heart disease, diabetes etc) are hugely disruptive.

Here are a few suggestions that can be implemented in the workplace to help improve the health of your staff and organization:

  1. Schedule Regular Healthy Pot-Luck Lunches — choose a day of the week and have each person bring in a healthy lunch item for a team-building activity.
  2. Bring a Colleague a Lunch — people are more likely to prepare healthy meals for others than for themselves, so capitalize on this and arrange for “bring a colleague a lunch week” and see the efforts people will go to in order to promote the health of a colleague.
  3. Recipe of the Week — each week choose a member of the team to share make their favourite healthy meal or snack and bring it in to share with the team.  Have them send each member a recipe via email for them to make on their own.
  4. Education Opportunities — bring in a nutritionist, dietician or health coach to speak to the team about how to create healthy meals and snacks to help fuel their day at work.
  5. Brown Bag Week — encourage the team to have a “brown bag” week.  Eating out can lead to unhealthy choices and lack of portion control.  Bringing your own lunch can help to ensure you are getting the nutrients you need and fueling productivity the entire day.
  6. Russian Lunch Roulette — like secret Santa, have everyone bring a balanced lunch and randomly select who gets what lunch.  It always tastes better to consume something made by someone else, so people should enjoy the surprise lunch they end up with.  Of course, plan ahead for any allergies/food requests and ask people to put sauces/condiments on the side to be added only if desired.

In the end, lead by example.  Employers have the ability to create opportunities that can help their workforce to engage in healthy habits.  Use the strength of your organizational alliance to bring people together to help them achieve healthy goals.  Everyone will benefit, including the organization.


Previously posted August 2015


Intimacy Following Injury or Illness

Sexuality is an incredibly important part of being human. Yet, when we are injured, ill, or suffering from physical, cognitive, emotional or behavioral difficulties, this too can suffer.

The following article, care of the Neurology Centre of Toronto, discusses some commonly reported sexual issues that occur after brain injury.  If you have issues with sexuality after an injury or illness, know that this can be common and can be improved.  Contact an Occupational Therapist, we can help.

Neurology Centre of Toronto:  Sex after Brain Injury: What does this look like for me?