Archive for category: Occupational Therapy At Work


Recognizing Sensory Seeking in Children

Issues with sensory processing are one of the most common reasons parents seek the services of an Occupational Therapist.  One of the most troubling sensory related concerns for parents is when their child is a “sensory seeker.” Sensory seekers are constantly “on the go” as they are attempting to obtain the sensory input that their bodies crave.

In our OT-V episode (below), we discuss how an Occupational Therapist can help if you are concerned that sensory seeking may be a problem for your child. 

Summer Programming Note:

Summer vacation is here and we will be taking a break from our regular schedule.  We will be posting some of our popular seasonal blogs just once a week throughout the summer but will resume our regular three weekly posts in September, filled with new and exciting content including our popular O-Tip of Week series.


Cognitive Strategies Following ABI

People with an Acquired Brain Injury, or ABI, often have issues with memory or other higher-level brain activity after their injury, and suddenly, completing daily life tasks becomes very difficult. They may struggle with things like remembering names and faces, the things they need to do in a day, or they may even forget or lack insight that they even have an ABI.

Occupational Therapists have the skills to get many people with brain injuries back to everyday life!

Learn about some of the strategies Occupational Therapists use to help those who have suffered an ABI in the following episode from our OT-V series, Acquired Brain Injury – Cognitive Strategies.



Brain Injury Recovery O-Tip of the Week: There’s an App for That!

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. 

June is Brain Injury Awareness Month.  Occupational Therapists are a vital part of a team of professionals that assist with the rehabilitation from brain injury.  Therefore, for the month of June, our series will be providing solutions to assist with some of the common cognitive deficits that can result from brain injury.

Remember the old Apple commercials… “There’s an app for that!”  Well, isn’t that the truth.  You can find apps for just about anything, and in fact, there are some great apps that can assist with memory and cognition for those who are recovering from a brain injury.  Some of these apps are summarized below:


Treating Executive Dysfunction: There is No “One Size Fits All”

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

As a caring professional, I refuse to believe that my clients are not motivated.  All of my clients have goals or I would not be treating them.  However, their ability to achieve their goals independently remains the reason that they require active therapy.  Previously, I wrote about executive functioning (Brain Injury and Executive Functions – When the CEO is on Hiatus), the capacities we require to achieve a goal, and used the example of moving to highlight how people with executive dysfunction may feel on a regular basis when completing relatively simple tasks.

Treatment for executive dysfunction is as broad as it is specific.  It is broad because everyone experiences brain injury differently and comes into that type of trauma with varying levels of ability to start with.  However, treating problems with executive function is really as simple as taking a goal and breaking this down into component parts, manageable chunks, and smaller goals within the whole.

So, returning to the moving example, assisting someone with executive dysfunction with a pending move will involve making checklists, with time frames, and checking on progress frequently.  Personally, I like to take a project approach:  calling the goal “Operation Move” and mapping out – start to finish – the metrics for success.  Perhaps in month one an “apartment hunting worksheet” is created to help a client summarize all the places they are looking at, the pros/cons, address, and list of questions that need to be answered (price, utilities included, length of the lease, etc.).  Often I encourage my clients to use a smartphone to take photos of the options then we cross-reference these and catalog them to keep things organized.  From there, the process continues with checklists for calls to make, addresses to change, ways to organize packing and management of belongings.  Ensuring the client is responsible for follow-up via “homework” between sessions and holding them accountable for completion of this aids to developing independence.  Really, the therapeutic goal is more than just ensuring the client is able to move successfully.  Rather, it is demonstrating a model and method that can be used for any future transitions, goals or tasks.  This ensures success that is transferable to other events at later dates. 


Previously posted June 2013


The Importance of Hope

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

June is Brain Injury Awareness Month.  For many who suffer a brain injury the road to recovery is long and filled with many twists and turns along the way.  I wanted to post this popular blog post as a reminder to not give up hope, no matter how difficult the journey may be.

A friend asked me to visit a colleague of his who was in the hospital following a spinal infection.  The spinal infection and resulting surgery caused paralysis and the gentleman was told he will not walk again.  During our visit we spoke of the non-profit organization “Spinal Cord Injury Ontario” and the client’s wife told me the story of their first meeting with a Peer Support volunteer.  She recalled that the volunteer (a paraplegic) entered their room and introduced himself.  The wife politely thanked him for coming but told him they would not need his services as they strongly believe that her husband will walk again.   The volunteer’s answer was brilliant – he told them that even though it has been years since his own accident, he too has not given up hope that one day there will be a cure for paralysis.  He explained that he keeps himself in great shape as to always be prepared for that day.  He told my friend’s colleague to never give up hope.

This conversation reminded me that hope is essential.  As a health professional, I realized early that one of the key roles I play in the lives of my clients is to foster hope.  Hope for a better future, for a solution to their current problems, and for a better way to manage.  Even just discussing problems and brainstorming solutions elicits hope.  Health professionals should never undervalue the importance of fostering hope – even if that is in the face of one huge challenge after another.  Where hope becomes dangerous is when people are so busy waiting for “the cure” that they forget to manage in the meantime.  Hope, like goals, is essential to survival, but so is survival in between.  To forgo opportunities, solutions and help in the hopes of a future “fix” will only cause secondary problems that may be larger than the initial problem in the first place.

This philosophy is supported by most Chronic Pain Programs – they will not admit people to participate if that person is banking on a surgery, medication, or other therapy to “fix” them.  Some problems are chronic, and learning to manage with the trials of life despite the problem is the only therapy.  This should not squish hope – but rather should allow hope to live and breathe among optimal function.  

I always try to remain hopeful.  Hopeful for a better world for my children, for resolution of pain and suffering for my clients, for the health of others, and for my industry to remain a place where injured people can be adequately supported during their recovery.  But I recognize that it is not always easy to feel hopeful.  So, if you ever find yourself running on empty in the hope tank, try calling a supportive friend or family member, looking online (or on this blog) for inspiration, watching a funny or uplifting movie, getting some exercise, changing your scenery, or seeking support from a health professional.  We are here for hope and help. 


Previously posted July 2013


The Need for Occupational Therapy in Non-Traditional Roles

The following, written by an OT student whose placements included a homeless shelter and working with troubled youth, discusses the need for occupational therapy in these non-traditional settings.  Learn more about this particular OT’s experiences in the following care of The Guardian.

The Guardian:  There’s a place for occupational therapy beyond councils and the NHS


Don’t Multi-Task, Multi-Purpose – It’s Better for You

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

Like the word “busy”, the words “multi-task” had a few years of being “cool”.  People thought that “multi-tasking” was accomplishing more, being super-hero productive, and showing superior intellectual capacity.  But research into multi-tasking has proven the opposite and in fact, our brains are not able to multi-task at all.  In fact, trying to do two things at once is reducing our capability to manage either effectively. 

In the article “12 Reasons to Stop Multi-Tasking Now” it is highlighted that society has moved towards the implication that if you are not doing two things at once, you are wasting time.  It mentions the reasons to stop multi-tasking, including some important points like: “Moving back and forth between several tasks actually wastes productivity…because your attention is expended on the act of switching gears—plus, you never get fully “in the zone” for either activity”.  This causes activities to take “more time” so instead of both taking say 10 minutes each, together they take you 25.  Further, we miss things by trying to do too much.  Our skills become careless, or it reduces our ability to enjoy moments if we are texting and walking or emailing while also trying to watch the ballet recital.  Attending to two things at once actually drains our “working memory” which kills our creativity.  There is just not an upside.

My solution is something I call “multi-purpose”.  It is the way I try to spend my time when it makes sense to fit in multiple things.  But I apply this to chores and tasks at home, more than work.  For example, if I am out to get X, I will also survey my home and “to do list” to see if I can also do Y in the same errand.  Our orthodontist is beside the bike shop and seamstress, so every trip to get braces tightened also means pants with holes or bikes with slow leaks are also addressed.  The pet store is beside the Goodwill, so when the cats need food the donation bag in the garage is dropped off.  The grocery store is beside my favorite gas station, so stopping for one usually means stopping for the other.  With work, I, of course, try to book client visits that are nearby, and if I have time in between I want to know that I can stop at a coffee shop with my laptop for some charting (means I need to plan for this and bring my laptop with me).  I also bring a lunch, as stopping to eat (in my opinion) doesn’t benefit my time, wallet or waistband. I may or may not return calls in the car (hands-free of course) – it depends on whether my brain (or heart) just needs to “reflect and drive” or the urgency of the call.  Bottom line is that I don’t tend to go places without thinking “what else can I accomplish during this outing and how can my time be best spent?”  The things that fill my day tend to serve many purposes, but they are still done separately.  That is the art of multi-purpose without the troubles and inefficiencies of the misleading concept of “multi-tasking”.


Reap What you Sow: Healthy Benefits of Gardening

If you haven’t planted your garden already, now is the time!  In recent years there has been a rise in the number of people growing vegetables and fruits in their backyards, patios and even on rooftops.  Why?  From health benefits to financial savings, there are many benefits of growing your own food and working in the garden.

Check out the following article from Reader’s Digest to learn about the ways gardening can benefit your health and get growing today!

Reader’s Digest:  10 Surprising Ways Gardening Is One of the Healthiest Things You Can Do



Washroom Safety and Independence: OT Can Help!

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

For some people, the simple task of going to the bathroom can be a challenge.  This may be due to a recent surgery, mobility impairment or another medical issue that impacts the bladder or bowels.

In an episode from our OT-V series, we talk about some of the tools and methods Occupational Therapists will recommend when providing solutions for safe and effective washroom usage.

Watch the video below to learn more about how an Occupational Therapist can help an individual facing challenges in the washroom to ensure their safety, comfort and optimal independence.  


If you enjoyed this episode of OT-V please visit our YouTube Channel to see more informative videos about Occupational Therapy and the Solutions for Living OTs provide!