Author Archive for: jentwistle


Are You Sun Smart?

We all know the importance of protecting ourselves in the sun.  Proper clothing, sun hats, and shade all help, but many health experts feel the best way to protect ourselves is by regular use of sunscreen, even in the cold weather months.  But is the sunscreen you use actually doing more harm than good?  Check out the Environmental Working Group’s “Skin Deep” which annually rates over 1800 different sunscreens available consumers.  Many of the sunscreens we use contain harmful chemicals and may actually be harmful.  Visit the website and see how your favourite brand stacks up. 

Environmental Working Group– Sunscreen Guide


Occupational Therapy is Functional Creativity

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

The profession of occupational therapy is all about creativity in solving barriers to function.  However, often we come across problems for which no solution currently exists.  In those cases we need to customize a solution that works for the client, their environment or care providers.

Personally, I have had great success with the local Tetra Society for developing creative solutions to problems that need a custom approach.  In one situation, my client who suffered from quadriplegia had the goal of feeding himself.  His elbow and shoulder flexion did not allow for his hand to reach his mouth.  With the help of his physiotherapist and Tetra engineer we were able to create a custom splint and modified utensils that bridged the gap between his hand and his mouth.  The material costs were $40.00 and the engineer was a volunteer.  In another situation my client, mobility impaired, wanted to attach his walker to his scooter so he could park his scooter and walk into the places he was visiting.  Tetra was able to custom mold a bracket for his walker at a cost of $10.00.  Another client also used Tetra under my encouragement to develop a bracket that would allow her to mount her camera so she could take photos from her power wheelchair.

Occupational therapy is about custom solutions to sometimes complicated problems.  But I believe that every problem has a solution and that as professionals we need to stay apprised of the options in the community that can help us to create customized solutions.  Take a look online for your local Tetra Society.


Weekly Mind Bender

You have a fox, a chicken and a sack of grain. You must cross a river with only one of them at a time. If you leave the fox with the chicken he will eat it; if you leave the chicken with the grain he will eat it. How can you get all three across safely?


Take the chicken over and leave the fox and the grain. Go get the fox drop it off and pickup the chicken. Take the chicken back across and pickup the grain and leave the chicken. Drop the grain off with the fox and take the chicken over now all of them are on one side!


Your Health and Where you Live

Money Sense magazine has just released its “Top 200 Places to Live in Canada” for 2013.  Apparently, where you live and corresponding environmental factors can directly impact your health.  Money Sense based their rankings on factors such as crime rate, property tax average, average income, weather, accessibility and others.  Check out the list to see how your city compares to other great spots in Canada. 

MoneySense:  Canada’s Best Places To Live 2013


Making Martial Arts More Accessible


I previously wrote about Martial Arts and the immense benefits of this for both children and adults.  However, in highlighting this, I am cognisant that some people will have physical, financial, and geographical barriers to participating in a Martial Arts program.  As such, I wanted to provide some more information to make Martial Arts more accessible.

From a physical perspective, like all activities, Martial Arts can be modified to meet any level of physical ability.  Personally, I have vertigo so I cannot engage in ground techniques.  So, I stay on my feet working on kicks, punches, forms, and self-defense.  Erik Kondo ( has paraplegia and is a third degree black belt.  He has posted several videos online about self-defense from a wheelchair, and has also published an online resource on the 5 D’s of self-defense (  Michael Sirota ( runs an entire Martial Arts program for people with disabilities and structures each program individually.  With a creative Sensei and a motivated participant, anything can be done.  Tai Chi is also a Martial Art, but is grounded in slow, sequential movements that can be done in sitting or standing.  My grandmother had Parkinson’s Disease and practiced Tai Chi for years as a way to prevent the decline of her balance and mobility.  There are many local chapters of Taoist Tai Chi (

Financially, like many organized sports or activities, Martial Arts can be considered expensive.  However, as a parent, I have found Martial Arts to be less expensive than the organized volleyball, basketball, tennis, cheer and dance my girls have participated in.  In the world of rehab, a one year Martial Arts Program could be easily justified on a treatment plan.  Or, if you are funding this yourself, there are different dojos with different fee structures so calling around can help you to find one within your budget.  Our local YMCA offers Martial Arts as part of the family membership, and a family membership at the Y has multiple benefits for a reasonable fee.  I also believe the Y’s offer membership rates that can be geared to income.  Some dojos offer Martial Arts on a monthly basis, and others require a contract.  You can decide through speaking with different programs which option works best for you.  Also, some community centers offer Martial Arts for very low prices, or again are geared to income.  I have also experienced Sensei’s coming into physical education classes to demonstrate some of the skills and techniques at no charge.

Geographically there may be barriers to finding a local dojo, or transportation problems prevent easy access the community.  Perhaps looking for videos, online resources, books or even using video games to teach some of the skills could be possible.  Or, perhaps there is a carpooling opportunity with another family in the same area.  Explaining access issues to the Sensei at the nearest dojo may result in some solutions.

The bottom line is that as with anything, where there is a will, there is a way.  And the benefits of engaging in Martial Arts are so immense that taking some time to research local opportunities and to ask questions to make this accessible to you or your child will be well worth the effort.