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Tag Archive for: occupational therapy

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A Day in the Life of your “Occupations” — 9 to 5 Workday

Contrary to the traditional understanding of the word, occupational therapists define “occupation” differently. For OTs, the word “occupation” does not only include “paid” work, employment, or jobs. Rather, we define it as the way people “occupy” their time and as such it actually includes all roles involved in living (therapy for living, who knew?). So, for Occupational Therapy month, we will explore “A Day in the Life of Your Occupations” complete from morning to night, highlighting common important occupations and how OT’s can help when things breakdown along the continuum that is living.

This week we discuss the important occupations that arise during the 9-5 Workday. If you missed our “Rise and Shine” post, you can view it here.

 

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Mental Health Services for Youth

Nicole Kelday, Student Occupational Therapist (University of Toronto)

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

 

It is staggering to realize that 39% of Ontario high school students show active symptoms of anxiety and depression. And while there are a multitude of resources available to help students that may require mental health services, only 40% of Canadians aged 15-19 reported they have not accessed these when needed. This begs the question…why are these youths not seeking services?

Reaching out for help can be daunting and many report stigma related to mental health concerns, especially in high schools. So, how do we encourage youth to access the services available to them and talk to those who may be experiencing similar concerns? A new emerging trend in mental health care is the concept of youth-led groups. Youth-led groups involve a shift in thinking, instead of viewing youth as our clients; they are viewed as partners and leaders to improve the practice of youth engagement in the mental healthcare system.

Across the province, community agencies have begun to initiate youth-led groups by involving youth with mental health illness in leading each other to raise mental health awareness and fight existing stigma. With support from a clinical adult ally, youth have participated in the creation of youth-friendly services by designing waiting rooms in clinical environments to encompass the interests of this group.

It is known that participation in meaningful activities and roles can enhance emotional well-being and social competence. Occupational therapists (OTs) have the unique ability to evaluate and facilitate supportive environments in order to promote mental health amongst children and youth. By involving all key stakeholders, OTs are able to determine factors that influence the ability of a youth to fulfill their primary roles and occupations and provide interventions to promote maximal functional participation in such.

As a student occupational therapist, I could immediately recognize how this concept strongly resonated with the core beliefs of client-centredness. Youth-led groups truly highlight the client as not only an active partner but also a leader, in their healthcare experience. Youth are equipped with vast knowledge and perspectives that we as healthcare professionals may not immediately recognize, which may help to explain why youth are not seeking available services in the first place.

 

References

1. Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (2018). Transforming mental health for children and youth. Retrieved from https://www.camh.ca/en/camh-news-and-stories/transforming-mental-health-for-children-and-youth

2. Hartman, L., Michel, N., Winter, A., Young, R., Flett, G. & Goldberg, J. (2013). Self-Stigma of Mental Illness in High School Youth. Canadian Journal of School Psychology, 28(1), 28-42.

3. The New Mentality (2016). TNM Groups. Retrieved from https://www.thenewmentality.ca/what/tnmgroups/

4. The American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc. Mental health in children and youth: the benefit and role of occupational therapy. Retrieved from https://www.aota.org/~/media/Corporate/Files/AboutOT/Professionals/WhatIsOT/MH/Facts/MH%20in%20Children%20and%20Youth%20fact%20sheet.pdf

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A Day in the Life of your “Occupations” — Rise and Shine

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

Contrary to the traditional understanding of the word, occupational therapists define “occupation” differently. For OTs, the word “occupation” does not only include “paid” work, employment, or jobs. Rather, we define it as the way people “occupy” their time and as such it actually includes all roles involved in living (therapy for living, who knew?). So, for Occupational Therapy month, we will explore “A Day in the Life of Your Occupations” complete from morning to night, highlighting common important occupations and how OT’s can help when things breakdown along the continuum that is living.

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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.

 

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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

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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

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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

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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!

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Getting around: Transportation Made Easier

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

Have you ever wondered why the design of the objects we use and spaces around us are getting better and seem to relate to our bodies or the way we do things in a much more obvious way than ever before?

Barrier-Free Design allows the greatest majority of people equal access to the private and public spaces of our built environment. The aim is to minimize or eliminate physical, cognitive, and sensory barriers in our homes, businesses, and public spaces and even our streets.  

Consider the front entrance of a building. Sidewalk curbs, uneven walkways, multiple stairs, heavy doors, and lack of handrails. All these can prevent access because they can create barriers for individuals.

Universal design methods such as curb cuts, level and slip-resistant walkway surfaces, properly designed ramps, accessible washrooms, automatic doors, lifts, and colour-contrasted handrails are all examples of ways to support increased and barrier-free access not just for folks with a physical disability but for all of us, including children, the elderly, parents with strollers and many others.

Occupational Therapy promotes a wide range of barrier-free design and universal design principles that have helped to make better buildings and spaces in our communities.

There is a greater awareness in society that our buildings and spaces must be more accessible to the greatest majority of people. There are far more products and methods for creating barrier-free environments today than ever before which can be great for finding the right product or design solution for an individual. On the other hand, the vast and ever-growing range of products and design solutions can also be confusing, making choosing the right product a difficult one.  Occupational Therapists have the knowledge and experience to help facilitate the right approach by drawing on current research and best practices for creating barrier-free spaces.

Occupational Therapists provide helpful information and design advice to architects, designers, and contractors when it comes to creating barrier-free spaces inside homes, businesses, gardens, and even public spaces. And since there is a wide range of barriers that can contribute to preventing an individual from completing an activity such as reaching or bending, OTs help by determining what the barriers are for an individual and facilitating products and design strategies that can help surmount these barriers.

As OTs, we have the privilege to serve the needs of many people in the community and using our skills and practices to help people meet their individual needs of daily living and have productive and rewarding life experiences. For many, this may only be accomplished by implementing a barrier-free experience in their homes, businesses, and places they like to visit.

For example:

  • For individuals with visual impairments, spaces should have adequate lighting, colour contrasting surfaces where appropriate, tactile cueing and signage as well as audible alarm systems. For individuals with auditory impairments, visual signage and alarm systems (for example, flashing lights) are necessary.
  • For someone in a wheelchair, a barrier-free experience may include modifications to their workplace kitchens and washrooms. Fixtures such as light switches, sinks, paper towel dispensers, toilet paper dispensers and grab bars must be installed at a height that can be reached from a seated position.

Ultimately, the goal of barrier-free design is to promote equal access and participation for everyone. There have been many steps taken toward ensuring this type of design prevails in our communities. There are new laws supporting improved accessibility within Ontario as of January of 2015.  Is your building up to code? Consulting an occupational therapist can help to ensure your space meets the new criteria.