“Y” is for you.
OTs are client-centered practitioners focusing on you, what’s important to you, and how to get you to engage happily in your meaningful occupations.
I don’t feel like writing today so that’s all you’re going to get to read. “You”, it’s pretty self-explanatory.
“X” is for Xbox controller – the famous adapted Xbox controller that premiered during this year’s Super Bowl.
If you haven’t seen the commercial, watch it now with the link here. This controller was adapted with the help of an occupational therapist for video game players, of any age. For individuals with limitations in upper extremity range of motion or upper extremity amputations/congenital deformities, the adapted Xbox controller provided an inclusive way for individuals to engage in gaming.
I recommend you watch the video link to get a better understanding of just how important this adapted Xbox controller can be! I’ll let the video do most of the talking today. Enjoy!
“W” is for “w sit”!
This is something OTs advocate and educate against! “W” sitting, as seen in this classic picture of Brittney Spears (LOL), is a big no no for developing children.
The w sit is a sign of poor postural control for children. An increase in the base of support by sitting in the w sit position helps to counterbalance poor postural control; however, sitting like so will prevent continued development of essential core muscles. Additionally, w sitting puts unnecessary stress on the joints and can lead to other problematic developmental areas.
Pediatric occupational therapists can strengthen core muscles in many ways through playful interventions with children that promote improved core, better sitting positions, and postural control.
Moral of the story: don’t let kids sit like Brittney Spears.
“V” is for vision, specifically low vision.
OTs can address low vision across all populations. There are many aspects of vision beyond the scope of 20/20 visual acuity. Vision also requires cognition. Are we able to see the change from carpet to hard wood flooring in our homes? Are we able to see each step going up or down the stair case so we don’t fall? Can a student copy what’s written on the board at school without teary eyes (fatigue) or pain? How sensitive are one’s eyes to light? Are both eyes working together? Vision is all-encompassing and there are SO many aspects that go into what we see and perceive.
So as OTs, we can help to strengthen the eyes to minimize fatigue. We can provide compensatory strategies via in-home modifications to prevent falls (putting bright colored tape at the edge of each stair to make each stair distinguishable). We can educate teachers on strategies to promote success in the classroom so a child can go through the school day without getting a headache.
Because occupational therapy is such a holistic field of health care, all of these components are within our scope of practice which is super exciting to me!
Only a few more letters until the OT alphabet is complete!
“U” is for universal design!
Universal design is a term to describe an environment that is accessible to everyone no matter their age, size, or ability/disability.
This means have accessibility to all public buildings (i.e. ramps available for wheelchairs).
This means having a playground accessible for all children even if they are in a wheelchair.
This means having push buttons near doors so that going in/out of a building can be done independently.
This means having Braille throughout public buildings that provide understanding of the environment.
This means having those tiny little bumps (called “tactile paving”) at the ends of sidewalks so individuals who are blind know when they are about to step out into a road.
This means having a sand table at appropriate height available out on the playground so children in a wheelchair can play in the sand with their peers.
The list goes on forever.
For OTs, we are advocates for universal design. We make sure that environments are accessible for everyone. We make sure to advocate for universal design when new community playgrounds are being built. We remind the decision-makers in big plans that accessibility is key (and within the law). Universal design is essential and it is our responsibility to promote that within all contexts.
“T” is for teamwork!
Teamwork is essential for best occupational therapy practice. OTs commonly work with physical therapists, speech therapists, social workers, nurses, and family members/friends for optimal treatment! Each member of a client’s team has an important role in their return to function, potential discharge, or development; therefore, teamwork is a requirement! With this in mind, it is also important that each member of the team communicates adequately and everyone is on the same page when working with a client. Like they say, teamwork makes the dreamwork.
“S” is for “sock aid”, also known as “sock donner”.
A sock aid is an adaptive device used to help individuals put on socks! The sock aid is beneficial for individuals with arthritis who have limited range of motion to bend down and put on socks. Additionally, it can be beneficial for individuals with poor motor planning who may experience difficulty knowing how to put on their socks.
How it works: you put the sock over top the end piece so that there is an opening for your foot. Slip your foot inside and pull the strings/straps. The sock stays on the foot and the end piece is ready again to put on the second sock!
Here is a picture of my friends practicing with the sock aid!
“R” is for research…..dreaded research.
As the health care field constantly changes, research becomes more and more important. OTs are responsible to stay up-to-date with the latest topics and evidence-based practice approaches for interventions. Additionally, research becomes important when working with a diagnosis you’ve never heard of to ensure clinical competence and adequate application of clinical reasoning.
As the semester unwinds, our first research experience is coming to a close. My group completed a literature review on the effectiveness of augmentative and alternative communication for promoting functional language development in children with autism. Research is tedious and can be monotonous at times but its implications for OT practice are imperative so it’s just something that I need to come to accept.
Also, I will be completing a research project next semester with my graduate assistantship supervisor (more on that once I know exactly what we will be doing).
All in all, research isn’t the best part of this field, but it comes with the territory. As our world continues to change, as technology becomes more advanced, and as new medical diagnoses are discovered and better understood, research becomes essential for continued competence in the health care field.
“Q” is for quality of life!
Occupational therapists strive to enhance quality of life for all clients. Quality of life involves being able to do what a person wants and needs to do – the essence of OT! What makes everyone’s quality of life different depends on what the person finds meaningful. We, as OTs, try to amplify quality of life as much as possible!
Additionally, it is important for OTs, as health care professionals, to maintain quality of life through occupational balance and self-care. It’s easy to get caught up in the stress of education and job responsibilities. Quality of life may be hindered when self-care isn’t prioritized. Being able to find occupational balance in doing things that one finds enjoyable is equally as important as trying to augment someone else’s quality of life.
Letter “p” is for proprioception!
Proprioception is one’s awareness of one’s body in space. Proprioception is actually one of our eight senses… yes, there are eight. This is knowing how far to stay away from a wall so you’re not rubbing against it. This is knowing how how much strength to use when picking up a glass of water so that it doesn’t slip out of our hands. This is knowing how much pressure to use on a pencil when writing so the lead isn’t too light nor too dark.
Individuals with poor proprioception are often seen as clumsy – bumping into things, tripping frequently, and stomping while walking, among others. Proprioception can be improved with deep pressure (i.e. hand squeezes, being covered up in pillows, or being rolled on by someone else laying on top of a stability ball (true fact), etc). These are the “crash and burn” kids we may come into contact. These are the kids that crave proprioceptive input.
We learned about proprioceptive input during our sensory lab earlier this semester. Here is a picture of my friend, Erica, providing deep pressure with the stability ball and then me rolling through the steam roller!