Sunday, May 12, 2013
While attending the AOTA Conference, I realized that the best part of the weekend (amidst very educational presentations and great lectures) was reuniting with classmates and discussing our Level II Fieldworks. Transplanted into new and distant environments, this was the first time I had seen them in over 4 months! I realized how self-centered I had become, thinking my experiences were the best, worst, most unique, craziest, scariest, and so on. We were used to learning together—if something happened in class we were there together to laugh about it. And if something happened on our Level I Fieldworks, it did not take long for word to spread and support to come pouring forth. For me, the hardest thing about fieldwork is learning without my classmates. But sharing our stories at the AOTA Conference made me realize – when we share our best, worst, most unique, craziest, and scariest, it’s amazing how much our stories have in common.
So when asked to contribute to the SLU OT blog I decided to take advantage of an opportunity to reach out to classmates and future OT fieldwork students. When Level II Fieldwork feels overwhelming, just remember that we have all been there…
My BEST: Not many people take well to being woken up and (strongly) encouraged to exert significant effort. Unfortunately for my patients in the inpatient rehab center, this was a common occurrence. Loud knock, lights on, curtains drawn, an eager “good morning” and the work begins! Hands down, my favorite part of being a therapist is when the startled patient smiles when he/she sees your face. If you can harshly interrupt someone’s slumber and he/she wakes with a smile, you are definitely doing something right…
My WORST: So far I have only walked out of a patient’s room in tears once. My patient was having a bad day and before our treatment session even started he sure let me have it. There was nothing I could have done differently, my patient was having a bad day and I was an easy target. As therapists we meet people in vulnerable places and sometimes they just need someone to help them bear the load. Although it is hard not to, you should not take it personally.
My MOST UNIQUE: We make treatment unique by turning hard work into meaningful activities. I had a patient who was extremely weak and did not tolerate strengthening activities well. She used to be an interpreter for individuals with hearing loss. One day I put 1/2 -pound wrist weights on and asked her to teach me sign language. Sure enough she had her arms moving in all sorts of directions for over 20 minutes!!
My CRAZIEST: Each and every individual I have seen with Conversion Disorder.
My SCARIEST: As a student therapist, I error on the side of caution and that serves me well. There has always been at least one experienced therapist in the room for difficult transfers and patients with complex medical conditions. I have heard horror stories though from my clinical instructors and their colleagues. Their advice: “Trust your inner voice and always ask for help.”
Level II Fieldworks are exhilarating, exhausting, educational, challenging, and extremely rewarding. I felt nervous and unprepared 16 weeks ago, but I have 8 weeks left and I am well on my way to becoming an entry-level therapist. I know I have the SLU OT Department to thank because when I do well, people commend my education rather than my personality or abilities. Just a few weeks ago a therapist in Omaha, NE told me… “I do not know what it is about SLU students, but they come better prepared to interact with patients than any other school. If I could always have SLU students I would.” Happy Fieldworking!!
written by Morgan Seier, MOT II Student
Monday, May 6, 2013
Master’s Research Insight: Exercise and Dementia
Dr. Perkinson has been working with three students within the MOT class to unveil the effects exercise has on persons with dementia living in assisted living facilities when performed with their family or primary caregivers. This is a topic that further interested Dr. Perkinson after she conducted a community based exercise project several years ago. There is a good amount of evidence that discusses the benefits of exercise on overall physical and psychological health. The goal is to investigate what activities interest the participant through an extensive interview. Then from that interview we create a meaningful and individualized exercise program for the participant and their family member that will last for 3 months. We investigate how the social aspect of working with a family member and having an individualized exercise program affects the retention of exercise among this population, as well as analyze the psychological, emotional, and physical effects of the exercise program on both the participant and their family member.
The students get the privilege of carrying out a hands-on experience through this research project. After extensive training, students are able to give interviews with family members, health assessments to both the participant and family member, create individualized exercise programs, follow up through phone checkups, and compile data in a computer system. Though the project has been slow to get going due to changes in proposals and location of research sites, the research will be continued throughout the summer of 2013 in hopes there are significant results to present at future conferences.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
OT + UD
What is universal design?
Definition from Ron Mace and the Center for Universal Design at North Carolina State University:
Universal design is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without adaptation or specialized design
Examples of UD products/spaces:
- Automatic doors at grocery stores
- Levered door handles
- Moving sidewalks at airports
- City Garden (downtown STL)
What do OTs have to do with universal design?
There are not many individuals within the various design fields who particularly focus their schemes on designing spaces with the human life span, development, and varying level of ability in mind. OT's are not only expert task analyzers but also recognize that an individual's occupational performance and engagement are dependent upon their environments.
Principles of UD:
1. Equitable use- the design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities
2. Flexibility in use- the design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities
3. Simple and intuitive use- use of design is easy to understand, regardless of the user’s experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level
4. Perceptible information- the design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user’s sensory abilities
5. Tolerance for error- the design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions
6. Low physical effort- the design can be used efficiently and comfortably and with a minimum of fatigue
7. Size and space for approach and use-appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use regardless of user’s body size, posture, or mobility
Why use Universal Design?
- allows older adults the option to “age-in-place"
- more attractive design options than the stereotypical accessible features
- increases an individual’s level of potential independence
- increases integration in to the community for individuals who may otherwise have special housing needs that would isolate them
- conceptually more developed than current accessibility and ADA laws
How do I learn more about UD?
- Universal Design Summit 5, a national conference focused on universal design in housing and communities, will be taking place at the Busch Student Center (on the campus of Saint Louis University), May 6-8th. For additional information about the conference please visit: http://udsummit.net/
- Follow the conference on twitter (@UD Summit) or “like” us on Facebook (facebook.com/UniversalDesignSummit)
This UD laundry room features raised washer/dry with front mounted controls, a pull under sink, loop handles on cabinets and drawers, wheeled laundry cart with garage.
This bathroom contains many UD features such as: a curbless shower entrance, a hand-held shower head, a shower bench, and a turning space.
This entrance features gradually sloping sidewalk that leading to the front door. The door has UD features, including a covered entrance-to protect owners from the elements and a side lite, to see who is at the door and to let in natural light.
Handsome, well lit bathroom with clear space under the sink. The lever handle on the faucet is attractive and easier for everyone to use.
Friday, April 19, 2013
MOT I students have been learning how to create different types of splints in our Occupational Therapy for Adults with Physical Dysfunctions course. We started with simple finger splints and have progressed to the much more difficult wrist cock-up splint and hand based thumb spica splint. Next week we will start on resting hand splint. While it has been stressful and frustrating learning to work with splinting material, it is rewarding to see the end product and to know that we are getting closer and closer to becoming official OT’s!
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Dr. Karen Barney Last Lecturer
Wednesday April 17th, 2013
7pm in the BSC 170
You may already believe that OT is a big deal, but one special woman is making OT famous in SLU’s greater community. Dr. Barney has been chosen to give THE Last Lecture for this year, which happens to be tonight in the BSC. The university chose Dr. Barney at a pivotal time in our department’s history and in her personal career.
Before my MOT 1 year, I had only seen Dr. Barney’s smiling face in the hallway and had little clue as to what an influential woman she was! Since then, I have learned more about who she is as a teacher, a professional, and a person. I have had the honor to be in the last MOT class that she actively teaches. That’s right, she is no longer teaching, but do not be alarmed, she is not “retiring” in the terms that many Americans tend to think of. In fact, I’m pretty sure she would not, could not, and (in my opinion) should not retire because she is such a power-house of action that a change in occupational pace of life to this extent would be unheard of. Instead, she is focusing her efforts more on research and her passions. She left us students with this message on her retirement:
“Teaching will be one of the parts of my life that I will most miss in retirement--the regular contact with students in the classroom. However, I hope that students will still join me in the field in our developing programs in practice and outcomes research.”
She will still actively stay engaged in her numerous life endeavors and asks that students consider engaging in them as well. If you attend her Last Lecture, you will surely learn more, but a brief overview of her life endeavors include:
· Geriatric occupational therapy practice (45 years of experience!) focusing on health promotion, quality of life issues, occupational justice with marginalized populations, and innovative service models.
· Crucial involvement since the beginning of the Missouri Gateway Geriatric Education Center in 1991 at Saint Louis University.
· Project Director for an ongoing cross cultural disability awareness program in Afghanistan.
· BFFs with a major leader in OT Frank Kronenburg.
She has worked with him and his foundation,
Occupational Therapy without borders. She has ensured
|Dr. Barney and Frank Kronenberg|
"We're attached at the hip!"
· In conjunction with South Africa research, Dr. Barney
continues to be committed to the Saint Louis North
City Initiative, to reduce health inequalities in
underprivileged areas. Few people have thought to
look introspectively at our own context in St. Louis
and connect it to the greater world (South Africa). But
leave it to Dr. Barney to find an opportunity for learning and
addressing issues for those marginalized on the brink of our own society.
· Speaking of concern for those marginalized on the brink of our society, she also works with the SLU Prison Program as Chair of the Re-Entry Program Committee. Imagine the work that OT could have in rehabilitating and preparing inmates for life outside of the prison. We better believe that meaningful occupations are incredibly rehabilitative and crucial to survival and successful re-entry back into society.
I, as an MOT1 student, am incredibly blessed to have met and learned from such an influential woman. I hope that you take the time to hear her Last Lecture on Wednesday. I think that nothing parallels hearing an influential person give a talk on the most important subject that they can think of for their Last Lecture. In particular, Dr. Barney has a unique personality that invites you to join in on every cause that she believes in and instills in you a sense of drive and purpose. I can tell you that you will come way inspired to act and reaffirmed in your decision to join the wonderful career of occupational therapy.
And I will end with a quote from Dr. Barney:
“Occupational therapy is one of the best kept secrets for promoting health--WE ARE the QUALITY OF LIFE profession! Carry the torch and light the world with this message.”
I hope to see you on Wednesday!
All the best,
Andrea Webber, MOT1
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Volunteers getting their assignments from one of the coordinators.
SWIMMINGLY SUCCESSFUL VOLUNTEERISM
Sunday, April 7, 2013, marked the second annual SO-SLU Special Olympics Swim Meet held at the Mid-County YMCA. 51 athletes participated in the meet as preparation for their Area Meet coming up at the end of April. With various heats for of divisions for children through older adults, volunteers helped each swimmer get to their lane, record times, and serve as judges as preparation for disqualifications in later meets.
Occupational Therapy students helped represent the volunteers hosting the meet. Volunteers had the opportunity to interact with all ages and cheer on the swimmers in support. A group of volunteers had the privilege to honor each athlete with their designated metal. The excitement and appreciation the athletes and their families shared with the volunteers made the whole day a resounding success.