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Author Archive for: jentwistle

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Daily Dose of Inspiration

“And I will sail my vessel, ’til the river runs dry.  Like a bird upon the wind, these waters are my sky.  I’ll never reach my destination, if I never try.  So I will sail my vessel, ’til the river runs dry.”

Garth Brooks: “The River”  

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Golf FORE All

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

I don’t quite understand why hitting a stationary ball is so difficult but alas, golf is one of my favorite sports.  I started playing as a teenager and spent years figuring out that my old baseball swing aimed lower would hit a golf ball far, but not really straight.  With practice I have removed the sway, slowed down my tempo, and learned that trying to kill the white-dimpled-target does not work out either, and voila, I am hooked.

But beyond my love of the sport as an athlete, I also love how adaptable it is.  Growing up I remember playing with my grandfather who had polio.  He would swing a club with one arm while his other arm held his crutch to keep him standing.  Yet, even with one arm, he could hit the ball consistently far and straight – skills foreign to most amateurs.  As an occupational therapist I now suggest golf as one way to re-integrate clients into the athletic world following an accident or injury.  How?  By breaking the sport into its component parts, and structuring participation around ability. 

Many people start with putting.  While putting can be boring to practice, it is the most important part of the game as you are likely going to put at least 18 times a round.  Putting requires neck flexion  but can be done in sitting or standing.  Mats can be purchased to putt at home that will eject the ball back to your feet if your putt is successful.  At times, I have even used putting with clients at their home to test for visual-spatial deficits which makes it a great exercise to also practice if deficits are noted.

From putting, people can slowly increase the club speed through chipping, pitching and low wedge shots.  In these cases, there is little body movement and reduced torque through lowered club speed that would cause pain if the ground, not the ball, was impacted.  Then, if feeling good around the greens, the player can start with low irons on the range and work backwards to full swings.  Eventually, they can try a few holes with a cart to pace the walking, then consider a pull cart with walking later if that is within their abilities.

What is also great about golf, however, is how this is getting attention in the world of modified sport.  Now, some courses have Solo Riders (www.solorider.com) that can be used by people who have deficits in independent standing.  These Solo Riders position the golfer in swing distance from the ball, then elevate them into a standing position to facilitate the swing.  These carts can go on the tees and greens as they only distribute 70 pounds for force through each tire – less than a person’s foot so they don’t damage the course.  I played in a tournament last year where a local golf pro, who had a spinal cord injury, demonstrated the use of a Solo Rider on a par 3 from the tee and hit the ball within a few feet of the pin.  Apparently, for the group before us, he hit a hole in one.

I also remember reading an article a few years ago about physiotherapy programs that were focusing on golf-related skills in therapy such as balance, trunk control, pelvic rotation, and fluidity of movement to help golfers return to the game.  Other activities, such as yoga and Tai Chi are also now known as ways golfers can improve flexibility, strength, endurance, and muscle control in the off-season.

My parents vacation in Florida all winter, and while there met Judy Alvarez who instructs and assists disabled people to learn, enjoy and excel at the game of golf.  I read her book (Broken Tees, Mended Hearts) on a recent holiday.  What is most compelling in her book is not about the physical benefits of golfing, but rather the emotional and participatory value golf has for her disabled clients.  Through participation in a challenging but modifiable sport, people can regain passion for sport, competition and can work to achieve personal bests.  Golf really is FORE all and I hope you will consider hitting the links.

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The Best Picks From Your Local Farmer’s Market

Summer has officially begun and fresh fruits and vegetables are a plenty.  Why not join the “eat local” food movement!  A great way to spend a summer day is to visit a local farm or farmers market and take in some of the healthy fresh items the season has to offer.  The following article from Health.com will help you decide the best things to purchase from your local farmers market.

Health.com: The Healthiest Farmers Market Food Picks

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Daily Dose of Inspiration

Grayson Clamp, adopted at birth, was born without the nerves to hear.  After years of searching for an answer, at the age of 3, Grayson received an implant in his brain to replace the nerves his lacks.  The processor listens to sound, breaks it down and sends the information to his implanted device which allows Grayson to hear.  The following video from UNC Health Care explains the process of the experimental device and shows the breathtaking moment when Grayson hears the sound of his Dad’s voice for the first time.  “It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen,” Len Clamp, Grayson’s Father, said. “He’s got a long way to go, but he’s going to get there.” 

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Pedestrian Safety – Senior’s and Traffic

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

The other day I was driving through a busy parking lot.  I noticed an elderly man who parked his car, got out, and proceeded to walk through the parking lot without ever surveying his surroundings.  He did not see my vehicle approaching him, and did not appear to notice the other cars that had to stop to let him pass.  The other drivers looked both annoyed and perplexed that he could be so clueless.

According to the CDC “Increasing frailty may leave the elderly more vulnerable to being hit by traffic. Age-linked declines in mental function, vision and physical disabilities might place older adult pedestrians at greater risk for being struck by a vehicle.” (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_136049.html).

With this man, what I noticed was quite telling.  He was looking at his feet.  Many seniors do this when walking.  Why?  Because they are afraid to fall.  With a decline in physical ability comes problems negotiating uneven terrain.  Parking lots and sidewalks are full of holes, stones, and cracks that could be problematic for someone with declining mobility.  So, they stare at the ground to avoid falling, the entire time being unable to also look around at other risks in the environment.  And when you combine this with reduced peripheral vision, they may not notice vehicles approaching. 

Society expects seniors to “know better” in that they have been trained, over a lifetime, about the perils of traffic.  With children, we don’t expect them to know better because they are carefree and often move before thinking.  As driver’s we watch for children and take extra care when we see them around roads or in parking lots.  We also tend to take the same precautions when we notice someone who is more visibly disabled using a wheelchair, or white cane.  But disabilities are not always visible and we have to be careful to not make assumptions – especially with seniors who may have an unnoticeable visual, cognitive, physical or auditory problem.  

My message here is that drivers should be cautious with all pedestrians, but need to be especially mindful of seniors – much like they are with children or other people with visible disabilities.  Seniors deserve our patience and the extra time it might take to help them safely go about their day and negotiate the sometimes challenging outdoor environment.