Archive for category: Solutions For Living


How Kids Can Continue to Learn Over the Summer

How do we, as parents and caregivers, make sure our kids don’t suffer summer “brain drain,” while ensuring they get the break and vacation they need?  Check out the following infographic for ideas to keep kids brains sharp while having fun this summer vacation:

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.


So I Guess Your Kid Doesn’t Wear a Seat Belt Either?

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

I get very confused when I see children riding bikes without helmets.  Over the last many years the safety benefits of a helmet for biking, skiing, skateboarding, ice skating (and many other sports) has been well studied.  Research shows that helmets can be extremely effective in preventing head injuries and ¾ of all cycling fatalities are the result of head trauma.  You don’t even have to hit a car or tree to sustain a head injury – the ground or even your handlebars are often enough.

The laws in Ontario are clear:  since October 1, 1995 anyone under the age of 18 is required to ride a helmet on a road or sidewalk (  Based on an increasing number of adult cycling deaths by head injury, it is likely that this law will soon be extended to adults as it is in other provinces.

So, considering the laws and the well-publicized risks, why are children (including young children) still seen riding bikes without helmets?

As adults, I recognize that we were not raised to wear helmets.  Adopting this practice has been difficult as we find it unnatural, maybe uncomfortable, and probably uncool.  However, most of us likely wear seat belts when in a vehicle.  Why?  BECAUSE WE WERE RAISED THAT WAY.  Seat belt laws in Ontario were passed in 1976 and so many of us were raised in the era of this as mandatory.  Many of us probably don’t even have to think about our seat belt anymore as it is part of our regular “get-in-the-car” routine and we feel naked and exposed without it.  We need to apply the same concept of “normal” to our children regarding helmets. 

There are two main reasons why children need to wear helmets. 

1. They are safe and have been shown to save lives and reduce disability.


As a parent, by not requiring that your child wear a helmet on their bike you are not only putting them at risk, but are also teaching them that laws don’t matter.  And I am not talking about the diligent parents whose children leave the house with a helmet on, to later have this on their handlebars or undone on their head.   I am mostly talking about the young kids in my neighbourhood who are out on their bikes without helmets, often under the supervision of their parents, and are thus not being taught that helmets are law, mandatory, and safe.

I am going to hazard a guess that no parent would put their child in a car without a seat belt.  Heck, child seats are also law and until a certain age, these are five-point and offer more protection than the adult restraint.  So, for the same reasons you put your child in a seat belt (protection and law) you need to ensure they are wearing a helmet for biking (skating, skiing, skateboarding).  And lead by example – get a helmet for yourself and model the appropriate behavior.  And be firm: no helmet should equal no bike.  No discussion.


Previously posted June 2016


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.


Accessible Travel Destinations Across Canada

Summer vacation is here!  For those looking to get away or those looking for fun day trips as part of a staycation, the possibilities may seem endless, however, for someone with a disability they may be limited.  The good news is that there are many fully accessible destinations, activities, and adventures across Canada!  Take a look at the following care of the Rick Hansen Foundation to explore ideas for fun in the sun experiences that are available to all.

Rick Hansen Foundation:  Vacation Ideas for Travelers with Disabilities

Learn more about accessible travel in our previous post, Vacation Plans? Consult our Accessible Travel Guide.


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.



Ergonomic and Safety Tips for Pain-Free Gardening

Do you have, or are aspiring to have, a “green thumb?”  Or do you simply enjoy beautifying your home or spending time connecting with nature?  Whether you garden for pleasure or purpose you may be reaping many of the health benefits, however, you may also from time to time suffer from a sore back and achy muscles brought on by the hard work and bending involved.  Take a look at the following article from Sunnybrook which discusses simple ways to prevent aches, pains, and injury when gardening so you can enjoy your garden all season long. 

Sunnybrook– Your Health Matters:    How to avoid pain or injury while gardening


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:


LGBTQ+: Three Strategies to Make Your Business More Inclusive

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)
Co-written by Jacquelyn Bonneville, Occupational Therapist and proud member of the LGBTQ+ community

Have you ever been on vacation to Jamaica, Dominica, or St. Lucia? Have you ever Googled pictures of the beautiful Maldives? Did you know that all of these countries, and some 70 others, have anti-homosexuality laws punishable by fine, imprisonment, or death? Globally we still have a long way to go, but like all progress, we must remain proud of the steps forward we are taking in regards for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ+) awareness and rights.

Pride month is celebrated in June in every year in honour of the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan, USA; a turning point for LGBTQ+ activism. If you don’t identify with this culture you may not feel that pride month is relevant to you, however, the spirit of pride month is to embrace diversity and peace, which all of us should celebrate, especially as proud Canadians.  This point, and the concept of peace, is even more prominent today considering the 2016 events in Orlando that resulted in the senseless killing of 49 innocent people as they attended a nightclub frequented by the LGBTQ+ community.

In honour of pride month, we’d like to offer 3 simple ways you can make your business more LGBTQ+ friendly:

 1.  Challenge Your Assumptions

It can be easy to assume that everyone is straight; when you ask a man if he has a wife, or a woman if she has a husband, you could be unintentionally making an awkward scenario for a non-straight person. If you have an intake form that only has two gender options (male or female), you could be instantly excluding someone or causing them to feel uncomfortable about your services.

As therapists, we are often in a position of asking about our client’s social supports. Instead of making assumptions, ask more open-ended questions such as “Are you in relationship with someone right now”, “who is your main source of support”, or “do you have a significant other?” Have an “other” option for gender on intake forms, or include sex as well as gender if someone’s sexual organs are relevant to your medical field. Consider expanding “married” on your intake process to include “common law” and “long term relationship”.  You’ll still get the information you need, but in a more inclusive way.

2.  Don’t be Afraid You’ll Use the Wrong Terminology

My husband’s name is Kelly.  Many times people have assumed he would be female:  he has been put on the girls’ draw in tennis tournaments, rendered us to win the prize for the “ladies best foursome” in a golf event, and often our mail and solicitation calls are directed to Mrs. Kelly. We’ve all called someone by the wrong name/gender accidentally before. It’s embarrassing – usually, they correct us, we apologize, and chances are you’ll never forget their name again. It happens, but in the grand scheme of things, it isn’t a big deal.

Gay, lesbian, queer, bisexual, bigender, cisgender, gender fluid, asexual, feminine/masculine of center, intersex, MSM/WSM, pansexual, trans*, two-spirit, ze – what does it all mean? If you are not part of any particular minority group, it can be difficult to know if you’re wording something ‘correctly’ and it may make you uncomfortable. You may even be afraid to offend someone – isn’t ‘queer’ an offensive term? It all comes down to individual preference – and you won’t know until you ask.

Instead of assuming a person is Sir or Ma’am, Mr. or Mrs. based on your assumption of their gender, get used to asking more inclusive, generalized questions as part of your daily routine. There is nothing wrong with asking a client/patient, “What’s your preferred name?” or “How should I address you?” And if you slip and use the wrong pronoun or term in addressing them, simply apologize, correct yourself, and move on. Besides, a good businessperson should have a healthy dose of humility – your clients will respect you more for trying to use their preferred terminology, even if you make a mistake. Don’t worry.

3.  Understand Some of the Systemic Barriers LGBTQ+ Persons may Face in Your System 

Knowledge of some of the challenges in your own business that directly affects persons of various sexual orientations and genders will only make your business more inclusive. Some questions that may be relevant to health care professions include:

  • Can a bisexual person donate blood in your city?
  • Is a transperson legally able to give emergency medical consent if their loved one is unconscious?

Will a queer person be safe in a shared hospital room if their partner comes to visit them?

Health care isn’t as easily accessible as you may think. It can be very challenging to find competent medical and rehabilitation practitioners that are educated on health factors more common in certain minority populations, and so not all people feel they can be open with their family doctor or access health care without judgment. Knowledge is power – keep an eye out for changing laws, trends, or factors affecting the LGBTQ+ population in your area.

In the end, consider adopting some of these strategies into your everyday life, and you’ll be making maximum impact with minimal effort. To quote a Futurama cartoon episode:  “When you do things right, people won’t be sure you’ve done anything at all.”

No one may notice you changed your language, or thank you for making the change – but to that client who needs to know that they’re safe with you, I guarantee you that your choice of inclusive words will make all the difference.

As Occupational Therapists we are lucky to be able to assess our clients holistically and to consider all of the factors that may be affecting their occupational performance including sexual orientation, gender, sex, and social support networks. We can constantly challenge our assumptions to help develop into even better practitioners.

Happy Pride Month!

Originally posted June 2016



Brain Injury Recovery O-Tip of the Week: This Handy Device Can Help You Find Your Keys

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. 

This tip definitely does not only apply to those recovering from brain injury… If you’re someone who is always misplacing your keys and/or wallet (or other items) this helpful piece of technology is for you!  Tile is a small Bluetooth tracking device you can attach to a keychain, slip into your wallet or attach to anything you frequently have to search for.  This device syncs with an app on your smartphone that will allow you to easily locate your items when in need – saving you a lot of time, effort and frustration!

Learn more here:



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