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Archive for category: Original Posts

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Snow Removal O-Tip of the Week: Snowblower Safety Considerations

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 February, our O-Tip series will help you to practice safe and efficient snow removal this winter.

If you are fortunate enough to have a snow blower you have less heaving lifting to do, however, there are still dangers that this more efficient method can pose.   Here are some tips to ensure you are being safe while blowing snow:

  • Do not let children operate the machine
  • Do not wear loose clothing which could get caught in the machinery
  • Pace yourself – even when snow blowing you can overexert yourself in the cold, leading to the risk of heart attack
  • Operate the machine only outside as inside a shed or garage could put you at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Add fuel outdoors, before starting, and never add fuel while the machine is running
  • Never leave it unattended when it is running
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Reducing Risk of Strain Due to Repetitive Movements

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

Repetitive activity using improper posture and body mechanics can result in excess energy expenditure, fatigue, pain and even injury or damage to muscles and joints over time.  Therefore, it’s important to know the proper body mechanics required when completing everyday tasks and activities, at home, at play or at work or school.

The following episode of our Occupational Therapy Video Series:  OT-V discusses how to ensure you are using proper body mechanics with respect to:

·    workspace design

·    lifting and repetitive muscle use

·    excessive standing

·    excessive sitting

·    hand movements

·    excessive energy output.

Take a look to learn how an OT can help you improve body mechanics and reduce the risk of injury and pain in the long-term.  Remember to subscribe to our YouTube channel for access to this and other great OT-V videos!

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Self-Esteem Boosting Tips

We all seem to have a tendency to look in the mirror and focus on the negative; however, it is known that the power of positivity can help boost self-esteem.  The following article from Today’s Parent discusses the importance of building self-esteem in children from a young age and tips on how to boost their confidence so they can happily look themselves in the mirror every day.

Today’s Parent:  How To Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem

These tips aren’t just great for boosting self-esteem in kids, but can work for adults too!

 

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Snow Removal O-Tip of the Week: A Solution for Sticky Situations

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 February, our O-Tip series will help you to practice safe and efficient snow removal this winter.

When snow is wet and heavy it often will stick to your shovel, making it increasingly difficult to clear.  Try this simple hack to lighten the load by ensuring the snow won’t stick to your shovel.  Before you begin, spray your shovel with a light layer of cooking oil (like Pam) to create a non-stick surface.  Please ensure the spray does not get on the ground which could create a slipping hazard.

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How Emotionally Intelligent Are You?

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

I have four daughters – three in high school and one in University.  That is a lot of estrogen in our house.  Yet it is an interesting time for our family – as our girls are navigating the perils of adolescence, I too am finding myself in a stage I am calling “adultescence” whereby my thoughts, feelings, and emotions are changing as theirs are.  This creates an interesting ebb and flow of all of us learning together what it all means as a teen girl to “grow up” and as an adult to start “letting go”.

I had one of those adultescent “aha” moments the other day with one of my teen daughters.  She is very socially driven and relationships are very important to her.  Over the last few months, as school has resumed, she has been struggling with some of her friendships.  One girl just suddenly stopped responding to messages, one takes pleasure in forwarding hurtful messages, and another treats my daughter as the weekend “last resort”.  In talking to my daughter about these events, my “aha” moment came when I realized that my daughter, already, is highly emotionally intelligent.  She has the ability to put herself in the position of others and regulates her own behavior (so far) on how she would feel as the recipient.  This is a gift for her but puts her at a relationship disadvantage as many of her peers are not there yet.   She “feels” in a relationship like she is 25, but is trying to rationalize the emotional behavior of kids 16 and 17.

According to psychology today, Emotional Intelligence includes three skills:

1. Emotional awareness, including the ability to identify your own emotions and those of others;

2. The ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving;

3. The ability to manage emotions, including the ability to regulate your own emotions, and the ability to cheer up or calm down another person.

Emotional intelligence then includes:  self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills.  It can affect: personal relationships, workplace (or school) performance, physical and mental health, and how you deal with situations such as loss or disability.

The good news is that experts believe that emotional intelligence can be learned, even in adults.  How do you know if you are emotionally intelligent?  Perhaps reflect on your relationships – are you able to sustain positive and loving bonds with others?  Can you empathize and relate to people during their struggles, and do they know that you “get it” and are emotionally available to them?  Do you regulate your own behavior based on how others might feel if you act a certain way, or say certain things?  Before sending that text, email or calling someone in anger do you consider how you want them to “feel” following your interaction?  Do you take pleasure in being right even if that makes others feel bad?  If you want to test your level of emotional intelligence, or raise your emotional IQ, take a quiz to see where you’re at:  Emotional Intelligence Quotient Quiz.

Do you think you need to improve in this area?  Some suggestions include:

·    practice mindfulness – in social situations, at work, at home with family relationships.

·    Stay in touch with your feelings through journaling or meditation “check-ins”.

·    Connect your feelings to the situation and try to separate the person from their behavior.

·    Check your thoughts – how you think can become how you feel, and the good news is you can change how you think!

·    Communicate with others and don’t be afraid to be vulnerable to those close to you to help sort through feelings, thoughts and emotions.

·    And if you can, don’t take the comments of others personally.  Their thoughts about you do not need to become the thoughts you have about yourself.

 

Originally posted November 2016

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Occupational Therapy and Heart Health

Being diagnosed with heart disease is a life-altering event, often requiring permanent lifestyle changes.    Occupational therapists can help people to recover from the initial incident, to rebuild a life of function, and to promote change that will help with prevention.

Learn more about how Occupational Therapy can assist those recovering from heart disease in the following infographic:

 

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Snow Removal O-Tip of the Week: Don’t Wait for the Storm to Subside

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 February, our O-Tip series will help you to practice safe and efficient snow removal this winter.

Snow shoveling can be very strenuous work, especially when dealing with large amounts.  Therefore, as long as it is safe to be outside, it is suggested that you try to tackle the snow in stages.  This may mean going out and shoveling multiple times throughout a snowfall.  Waiting until all the snow has fallen will make the snow harder to move, which can increase the chance of injury.  Set yourself a timer and go out every 2 hours or so and reward yourself with a cup of hot cocoa each when you finish!

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Breaking the Stigma: Sexuality and Disability

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

Co-written by Lauren Halliwushka, Occupational Therapist

Unfortunately, in the ongoing quest for an inclusive and equal-opportunity society, “sex” still sells. What used to be in printed material (magazines, newspapers, and fliers) has turned into an online buffet of images that are posted by people of themselves (often filtered, patched and “enhanced”), by people of others (with and without consent), and by photographers, companies and others whose job is to capture the attention of, and entice millions of people, to buy a product, service or idea. The goal of these “sexy” images is to tap into our intrinsic human need and desire for sexuality by adhering to the societal expectations of what is attractive. 

It has only been in the last few years that the concept of “attractive” is changing. Models are increasingly featured in many different shapes, sizes, ethnicities and some campaigns (thank you Dove) are about “natural” beauty.  But despite this small move in the direction of selling with images of “various types of people” presented as “real”, there is one more similarity in advertising that we often overlook. The models are able-bodied, or to use a totally arbitrary term, they would be considered “normal”. 

Why then do we rarely see individuals with disabilities featured in sexually enticing advertisements? It goes back to society’s assumptions of what beautiful and sexy is. Disabled people, through their history of being marginalized, institutionalized, segregated, or otherwise pitied have not been routinely associated with ‘attractive” as a concept. We need to work together to continue to change this perception and to remove the stigma.

Individuals with disabilities are sexual beings. Like you and me, they also have urges, desires, needs, and fantasies. However, a subset of the general population doesn’t think so. According to a systematic review of qualitative articles, a prominent misconception among a sample of the general public is that individuals with disabilities are asexual. Biologically this is odd because individuals with disabilities undergo the same maturation processes as everyone including puberty, reproduction and hormonal surges. Yes, approximately 1% of individuals are asexual but this is all people, not just those with disabilities. Another common misconception is that individuals with disabilities are only attracted to other individuals with disabilities. Inter-abled couples do exist, and relationships can form before or after a disabling event. Compared to inter-racial couples, however, inter-abled are not as common. Why? Well, it is thought that individuals with disabilities may be unconsciously internalizing the stigma and perspectives of society, which further negatively impacts their self-esteem, self-efficacy, motivation, and perceived sexual autonomy. This claim is supported by a qualitative study that gained the perspectives of individuals with disabilities on the topic of sexuality. A significant theme that emerged is the innate belief that their sexuality was not equal to or desired by individuals without disabilities. As such, they were reluctant to pursue inter-abled relationships due to fear of rejection, the partner resenting their disability and the possibility of the partner falling into a caregiver role.

In addition, stigma unknowingly creates various systemic barriers that further reinforce societal and self-stigma among individuals with disabilities, creating a negative counter-productive cycle. There is plenty of literature that highlights the ineffectiveness or inaccessibility of sexual education within secondary schools for individuals with both visible and invisible disabilities. Sexual education focuses on “normal” (that ugly word again) people. Hence, from a young age, we are setting up individuals with disabilities for failure by reinforcing self-stigma and neglecting to acknowledge their sexual being.

Regarding the healthcare system, a study suggests that only 6% of licensed health care professionals engage in frequent discussions about sexuality with patients/clients with half of them stating they avoid the topic due to embarrassment. Keep in mind, this statistic is regarding all individuals, disability or not, which is even more surprising given that sexuality is a crucial component of someone’s health and – more importantly – intrinsic to human nature. No wonder individuals with disabilities are adopting self-stigma if health care professionals shy away from this topic.

This is not about changing what you see as attractive. This is about challenging the opinion that individuals with disabilities are not capable of being sexy and can’t (or shouldn’t or don’t) engage in sexual behaviors. Not only are all people, disabled or not, able to engage in any and all sexual behaviors, but they also have wants, needs and desires like the rest of us. Healthcare professionals that shy away from, or avoid, this topic should consider discussing this aspect of health with patients/clients when appropriate by adopting a comfortable strategy (such as the ex-PLISSIT model).

If you have personally felt, or still feel, the self-stigma surrounding sexuality, please discuss it with a trusted family member, friend or healthcare professional. Specifically, Occupational Therapists are trained to be open about this concept and to problem solve the barriers to sexuality and engagement in sexual activity as a very important “occupation (aka life role)” for all of us.

If you are interested in reading more, I recommend The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability by Dr. Miriam Kaufman.

Remember: Disability is extremely broad and can impact people in multiple ways. As with all people, consent is always required when engaging in any sexual activity.

 

References:

 

1 Sinclair, J., Unruh, D., Lindstrom, L., & Scanlon, D. (2015). Barriers to Sexuality for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: A Literature Review. Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 50(1), 3-16. Retrieved June 18, 2018.

2Miller, A. M. (2015, May 4). Asexuality: The Invisible Orientation? Retrieved from https://health.usnews.com/health-news/health-wellness/articles/2015/05/04/asexuality-the-invisible-orientation

3Esmail, S., Darry, K., Walter, A., & Knupp, H. (2010). Attitudes and perceptions towards disability and sexuality. Disability and Rehabilitation, 32(14), 1148-1155. doi:10.3109/09638280903419277

4McDaniels, B., & Fleming, A. (2016). Sexuality Education and Intellectual Disability: Time to Address the Challenge. Sexuality and Disability, 34(2), 215-225. doi:10.1007/s11195-016-9427-y

5Jones, L., Bellis, M., Wood, S., Hughes, K., McCoy, E., Eckley, L., . . . Officer, A. (2012). Prevalence and risk of violence against children with disabilities: A systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. The Lancet, 380, 899-907. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)60692-8.

6Dukes, E., & McGuire, B. E. (2009). Enhancing capacity to make sexuality-related decisions in people with an intellectual disability. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 53(8), 727-734. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2788.2009.01186.x

7Haboubi, N. ,. J., & Lincoln, N. (2003). Views of health professionals on discussing sexual issues with patients. Disability and rehabilitation, 25(6), 291-296

8 Taylor, B., & Davis, S. (2006). Using the Extended PLISSIT model to address sexual healthcare needs. Nursing Standard, 21(11), 35-40. doi:10.7748/ns2006.11.21.11.35.c6382

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What is Recreation Therapy?

Recreation therapists are certified professionals who work along with a team of health professionals to assist people in achieving optimal quality of life through participation in leisure and recreation.

Therapeutic Recreation Ontario defines Recreation therapy as “a process that utilizes functional intervention, education, and recreation participation to enable persons with physical, cognitive, emotional and/or social limitations to acquire and/or maintain the skills, knowledge, and behaviours that will allow them to enjoy their leisure optimally, function independently with the least amount of assistance and participate as fully as possible in society.”

February is Recreation Therapy Month.  Learn more about this helpful therapy and how it can benefit those struggling with mental illness in the following care of CAMH.

CAMH:  Enhancing life with meaningful activity

 

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Snow Removal O-Tip of the Week: A Lesson on Lifting

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 February, our O-Tip series will help you to practice safe and efficient snow removal this winter.

Clearing snow is a necessity to ensure safety for yourself, visitors and passersby.  Shoveling can be strenuous work, therefore it’s important to use the proper tools and techniques to reduce the risk of injury.

Whenever possible, push the snow rather than lifting. When lifting is needed, follow these tips:

  • Do not try to lift large amounts at one time
  • Hold the shovel close to your body
  • Ensure you keep a slight bend in your knees
  • Lift with your legs while maintaining the natural curve in your back.
  • Always move your feet to ensure your body will face the direction to where you are dumping the snow.
  • Avoid twisting your back
  • Avoid dumping snow over your shoulders