Why do I have a blog?

I am a second year Occupational Therapy (OT) student, and as an OT student, I am required to explore the different cultures, societal norms and occupations of others to understand and have empathy towards others.

We do this through many different methods or ‘occupations’; these include cooking, craft, games, performance, record keeping or technology (this is where the blog comes in). Through technology and this blog I am able to express myself, as many others do on a daily basis. This leads me to the themes of my many future postings.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

There are more of us out there!

For my final post, I am required to prove the communication between OT’s over the Internet. This can be for inquiry, educational purposes or promotion of OT as a profession.
These next links will direct you to blogs created by OT’s. You may notice a lot of these blogs mention OT conferences. It would be very interesting to go to one of these in the future.

Here are two examples of communication between fellow Otago Polytech OT Students.

This is very informative, what other groups of people could this be used for?

Good question H-Rock! This devise would be useful to anyone who suffers MS, Parkinson's, TBI or stroke. If a persons speech is extremely limited, they are able to get someone else to speak on the recording.

Hi Vic, I see your three online communities are for those who suffer depression. Are these online communities limited to those who suffer depression alone, or also to those who suffer depression within other forms of mental illnesses?
Hey Gabi, great question! These online communities I have chosen are designed specifically for people suffering from depression. However in there are a huge variety of online interactive websites available for people with other forms of mental illnesses.

This proves that OT is becoming a well-known profession and we are defiantly not alone in the blogging world, there are many OTs out there trying to promote who we are and what we do.  

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Assistive Equipment

A vital aspect of Occupational Therapy is the adaptive equipment we provide to increase the quality of an individuals life. There is a variety of equipment used in the profession range from soft tech to hard tech as well as low tech to high tech. This can be adaptive or assistive, which is defined as “any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially of the shelf, modified or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities” (Cook & Hussey, 1995). Therefore, assistive equipment is any form of equipment that aids a person’s ability to participate in an occupation.

A piece of assistive technology I would like to share with you is the Talking Photo Album. This is an “easy-to-use speech output album” (Attainment Company, 2011, p.7) that allows the user to insert a photo and record a message relating to the photo. To activate the recording, the user simply presses the play button. The album allows the use of cards, text or standard sized photo’s (4” x 6”) over 24 pages, with 10 seconds of recording time per page, and runs on two AA batteries (Attainment Company, 2011). This album can be used as a way of communicating stories, instructions, personal information or memories when otherwise limited in speech. The Talking Photo Album can be purchased for $29.00 from Attainment via their catalogue.

This album appeals to me as I feel communication is a necessity to survival as it allows us to learn, develop and share with others, without this we would fail to exist as social beings. Christiansen & Townsend explain that humans are “social and occupational beings who are genetically predisposed to exist and act together. Mutuality and reciprocity appear to be an evolutionary necessity for humans” (2004, p.184).

This album would be perfect for those who suffer occupational deprivation. Occupational deprivation is an individual’s inability to participate in occupation over an extended period of time due to circumstances which are external or out of the individual’s control (Whiteford, 2004). An example of this is a client who I had the pleasure of working with during his time suffering Motor Neuron Disease (MND). Communicating was becoming a challenge for him and his speech was declining. During one of my home visits to this gentleman, he asked me to take a book off the bookshelf and give it to him. This book was on New Zealand’s greatest helicopter pilots and as he found a page with a picture of him as a young man standing beside a large helicopter. With great effort he continued to tell me of this past occupation of his. Looking back at this situation now, this Talking Photo Album would have be a tremendous aid to him. At the beginning of his illness, before his speech had declined, he could have recorded his voice talking of his experience.

The Talking Photo Album would be useful for not only the gentleman above, but for individuals whose communication is limited. As it has been said many a time, humans are social beings. Having the ability to socialize and communicate allows our participation in human society.

To see more on this product, visit


Whiteford, G. (2004). Occupational deprivation: Understanding limited participation. In C. Christiansen & E. Townsend (Ed.s). Introduction to occupation: The art and science of living (2nd e.d.). USA: Pearson.

Christiansen, C. & Townsend, E. (2004). Introduction to occupation: The art and science of living (2nd e.d.). USA: Pearson (p.184).

Attainment Company (2011). Annual catalogue 2011, p.7

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

The internet & Online Communities

For this post, I am required to discuss the topic of online communities. First I will explore what an online community is, then give examples of online communities relating to a fieldwork experience.

Online communities are defined exactly as they are named, communities that are online. A community is described best by Christiansen & Townsend as a “bond among people with strongly similar backgrounds and interests (2010, p.177). Online simply means to be “accessible via a computer or computer network” (Free Online Dictionary, 2012). So an online community is just that, a community that is accessed by computer. 

During my first fieldwork placement, I was introduced to a number of clients who are all experiencing different conditions and handicaps within their lives. Meeting and working with these clients gave me great insight into what some people have to adapt to in the time of sickness. Whether this is a short time injury, or is a longer, continuing illness. There are three clients whose case I remember well and stuck with me. The first is a double-amputee, each leg’s amputation only months apart. His adaption to from having two legs, to one, then to no legs, was inspirational. He had become confident in transfers, had modifications made to his house and recovered well due to his positive attitude. The only challenge he faced was accessing his house, a ramp was built and his wheelchair was modified to have mountain climbing breaks. However, nothing could be done to prevent his access outside of this home. Public ramps may appear to be ‘wheelchair friendly’ may not be.

This first online community, titled ‘Wheelchair Ramps from Hell’, share a bond over the issue of ramp access. A ramp is usually, when constructed correctly, are safe, sturdy structures that allow disabled people access to places they might otherwise not be able to go” (Shadow, 2012).
Here, however, ramps have been shown to be more impeding than beneficial to the user.
This page allows others to contribute as any other Facebook page; join, like, share photo’s and post comments, this is exactly what users have done.  

The second scenario, which has remained with me, concerns to clients, who, I feel may have benefited from an online community, were sufferers of Motor-Neuron Disease (MND). With this condition, symptoms may occur at different rates from person to person, one patient may decline quicker than another, but the final outcome is certain. This is where support for both the patient and family is crucial into gaining further understanding of this disease.

PatientsLikeMe is a worldwide company who was co-founded for the benefit of patients to transform the management of their own conditions through a health data-sharing platform. PatientsLikeMe is committed in putting patients first by providing a way for them to share their health experiences. This helps the patients themselves, other patients, and organizations to better understand your condition (PatientsLikeMe, 2012). http://www.patientslikeme.com/

While spending an afternoon with another OT from the Community unit, I meet clients with minor disabilities, some more noticeable than others. Some clients were very active with their disability, much like these people in the next online community.
The third online community is set up by the My Handicap Foundation and is a self-acclaimed “online discussion board for people with disabilities and their social environment in which people with disabilities can exchange worldwide about health issues and aids, trips and mobility, relationship and family” (My Handicap.com, 2012). As stated, this community is for the disabled to share in thoughts and feelings regarding their disability. This site appears to be very interactive showing articles related to disability and many other topics, a question forum, information and support. Anyone is able to register to MyHandicap.com and contribute, which may include donations, asking questions as well as giving answers to others’ questions and post links to their own personal blogs.  http://www.myhandicap.com/index.php?id=3753

These three communities provide the users with answers, support and the knowledge that they are not alone in their journey. This is what the users are seeking and receiving by actively joining these online communities. The relationships users form can be reciprocal or as one sided as they wish, they have control of their contribution to the community.
As you may have noticed, all three of these online communities have one thing in common; their lives have been greatly affected by their condition and want to share their experiences with others. The users are suffering from occupational deprivation and are creating occupational identity. Occupational deprivation refers to an occupation in which a person can no longer participate due to circumstances.
Occupational identify is when a person feels they have an occupational role, here this is the role to share with others and give support.

With all Internet activity, ethical considerations should be taken into account. The Internet can be accessed by anyone with little to no personal identification, or evidence that they are who they say, and what they say is truthful. These online communities hold a lot of trust and sensitive, personal elements that could be abused by others. Photos can be made public and misused; information and personal stories could be misinterpreted or offend. To avoid any potential ethical issues arising, one should not upload or share anything onto the Internet they don’t want the world to see, because that is how widespread the data can be sent.
This is one of the limitations of online communities. Many people who share information about personal health may be in a sensitive state, any offence made may cause grief or potential psychological harm. Joining an online community requires no identification, so anyone can join with false pretenses.
On a lighter note, benefits of online communities include relationships and support that may have otherwise been absent, with people who share a bond of health and interest rather than geographical location of traditional communities. Support can be sent from around the world, from people who are in much the same situation. In making this blog, I have explored online communities in order to find information on how to upload slideshows, photos and much more. The help I found was amazing and helped me to complete my blog post. I feel this is the one of the key reasons why online communities are so great.

Free Online Dictionary (2012). On-line. Retrieved 27th April 2012 from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/on-line

Christiansen, C. & Townsend, E. (2010). Introduction to occupation: The Art of Science and Living (2nd ed.). USA: Pearson, p.177.

PatientsLikeMe (2012). About us: PatientsLikeMe. Retrieved 30th April 2012 from http://www.patientslikeme.com/about

Shadow, S. (2012). How to build a wheelchair ramp. Retrieved 27th April 2012 from http://home.howstuffworks.com/home-improvement/construction/projects/build-wheelchair-ramp.htm

MyHandicap.com (2012). MyHandicap foundation. Retrieved 30th April 2012 from http://www.myhandicap.com/index.php?id=3753

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Adaptive Equipment Videos

During my first year of studying Occupational Therapy, I was allocated a placement in Hastings in a Community Health setting. This placement focused on adaptive equipment ranging from basic raised toilet seats to hospital grade palliative beds. My supervisor was qualified in wheelchair seating, which meant we worked on all the wheelchair modifications for the region. This placement gave me great insight into the range of physical needs, some more common than others. One very common group of clients we saw were days away from receiving hip and knee replacements. These clients were given very standard equipment that were generally loaned to them for a maximum of six months, the average time period being six weeks. The complex clients required more intervention time and more OT and other therapists’ input. These complex clients included amputees, palliative care and housing modifications. This placement gave me a great interest in equipment and an area to consider when graduated. For this reason I am going to show you five different you-tube videos that feature this wonderful equipment, some basic, others not so much.

The next video was created by an OT demonstrating a range of adaptive equipment that can be used in the kitchen.

This clip shows Scarlet in her new powered wheelchair, which has a central control adaption. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKyx8xGZyOg&feature=related

This clip below is quite long (20mins), but is very detailed. I suggest to watch it if you have the time (you will be an expert afterward). It’s a representative for AEL (Adaptive Engineering Limited) on wheelchair adaptive equipment.

This video shows us how Michael Grave, an American architect, has adapted to his disability, which includes re-designing his own home to promote wheelchair accessibility as well as creating a new perspective at his workplace. A few things to look out for is the set up of his door entering the elevator, his shower, the control stick of his wheelchair and the splints he wears during his therapy session.

This clip shows the future of transportation fro ‘getting around Tokyo’. This could just as easily become the future of wheelchairs.