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Archive for category: Brain Health

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Tech Support: Learning Made Simple

In the digital age we live in if you are not fluent with the latest technology you can get left behind or struggle to keep up if you don’t know how to use it.  Those with cognitive difficulties and older adults who do not frequently use technology may find themselves needing some extra assistance to learn to use helpful apps and software.  Our colleagues at Lawlor Therapy Services have launched a series, Tuesday Tech Tips, providing how-to videos on some of the most frequently used and helpful pieces of technology.  If you could benefit from extra assistance maximizing the use of your computer, tablet or smart phone, this series is for you!

Lawlor Therapy Services:  Tuesday Tech Tips Series

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The Fidget Spinner – Useful or Distracting?

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

Co-written with Student Occupational Therapist Elizabeth Fallowfield

Last spring my daughter brought home a “fidget spinner” that she purchased off a kid at school.  She showed me how this worked as I had not seen it before.  After watching her use this I had flash backs to my pen-twirling days from University.  When I started my undergrad at the University of Waterloo, I noticed other students (many foreign) that would twirl or spin their pen in their hand during lectures.  I decided I too wanted to master this, and spent many-a-lecture working more on my pen-twirling skills than absorbing the worldly lessons of my professor.  Eventually, after launching a few pens rows ahead of me, or losing them altogether, I mastered the twirl, flip and spin with both my dominant and non-dominant hands.  Sometimes I would even get daring and twirl two pens at once (only in the really boring lectures of course).  To me, the fidget spinner serves the same purpose – give your hands something to do when you should otherwise be focusing and attending to something else.  But is this really the case?

The History of the Fidget Spinner…

The fad fidget spinners we saw in classrooms everywhere are a specific type of “fidget”, which can also include things like stress balls, fidget cubes, putty or smooth stones. The purpose of these “fidgets” are to allow for movement and sensory input – which then helps to either calm the body, or allow it to become more alert based on the sensory profile of the person, as assessed by a qualified therapist, such as an Occupational Therapist. The sensory profile is a depiction of the way that a person seeks, processes and organizes sensory input. It is this sensory profile which would determine for example, whether movement and fidgeting is beneficial – allowing someone to calm their body in order to stay seated throughout a lesson, or whether it would be overloading, or distracting.

For these reasons, fidgets were originally used as part of therapy for children with ADHD or Autism, who often have trouble regulating themselves in a classroom setting. However, the popular spinners we see in classrooms today are not a design of fidget commonly used for therapeutic treatment. A fidget cube is an example of a more therapeutic fidget that would provide tactile or touch stimulation without the visual distraction of spinning.

What Does the Research Say?

The Occupational Therapy profession is a leader in sensory processing assessment and research, and while these specific types of spinners are too new to have been researched specifically, the research on other types of spinners is clear – they can be equally helpful, harmful or neutral to a person’s focus depending on their unique sensory needs – which can only be accurately assessed by an Occupational Therapist or healthcare provider with training and experience in sensory processing theory and assessment.

The Bottom Line: Fidget Spinners are a Better Toy than a Therapy…

Parents and the general public should be cautious of the claims that fidget spinners are a broad and successful therapy tool for managing ADHD and Autism, or that they are globally effective at increasing attention and focus, or have a calming influence.  Truthfully, fidget spinners could be either an outlet to provide stimulation and to increase attention, or a distraction from something that is likely more important to be attending to (i.e. expensive University lectures). So, perhaps unless prescribed, these are best left at home this coming September.

 

References:

Barton, E., Reichow, B., Schnitz, A., Smith, I., Sherlock, D. (2015).  A systematic review of sensory‐based treatments for children with disabilities.  Research in Developmental Disabilities, 37, 64‐80.

Foss-Feig, J. H., Tadin, D., Schauder, K. B., & Cascio, C. J. (2013). A substantial and unexpected enhancement of motion perception in autism. Journal of Neuroscience, 33(19), 8243-8249.

Stalvey, S. and Brasell, H. (2006). Using Stress Balls to Focus the Attention of Sixth-Grade Learners. Journal of At-Risk Issues, 12, 2, 7-16.

Zimmer, M., Desch, L., Rosen, L. D., Bailey, M. L., Becker, D., Culbert, T. P., … & Adams, R. C. (2012). Sensory integration therapies for children with developmental and behavioral disorders. Pediatrics, 129(6), 1186‐1189.

 

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Solutions for Managing Passwords

Online security experts recommend creating strong passwords with a mix of special characters, numbers and letters which are different for each application you use.  However, remembering one simple password is often hard enough!  Especially for applications you don’t use often, it is recommended you keep a log of each password so you can easily retrieve it when needed.  This is particularly helpful for seniors, or anyone dealing with cognitive issues, who may have difficulty remembering passwords, or have trusted family members and/or caregivers who may need access to these.

Use our printable Password Keeper to record these important online passwords and user names, and keep it in a safe place for future use.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more helpful tools please visit our Printable Resources Page.

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Work Smarter — Not Harder!

Energy is like a currency, we only have so much of it and need to spend it wisely throughout our day. Conserving energy during small tasks throughout the day helps to save needed energy for important, meaningful daily activities.

Physical, psychological, and emotional difficulties can make everyday tasks like cooking, cleaning, or working seem nearly impossible due to the level of energy required to perform them.

If energy is a precious resource to you or someone you care about, the tips included in the following OT-V Episode, Conserving Energy Everyday, will help you conserve as much energy as possible throughout your day.

 


You can also try our printable energy conservation planner to help you plan your daily, weekly or monthly activities for optimal conservation of energy.

 

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Help Young Minds Stay Sharp this Summer

It’s that time again… The report cards are done, the bell has rung, and summer vacation is upon us! Summer is a time for camps, vacations, trips, cottaging and so much more.  But with all the fun in store, where do they fit in time to learn? How do we as parents make sure our kids don’t suffer summer “brain drain,” while still ensuring they get the break and vacation they need?  Check out the following infographic for ideas to keep kids brains sharp while having fun this summer vacation!

 

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30 Day Healthy Brain Challenge: Day 30

Practice Pedestrian Safety

In cities across Ontario pedestrian deaths and injuries are on the rise.  Many blame distracted drivers, but distracted pedestrians are also a problem.  Distractions from mobile devices including texting, emailing and music are often to blame.   It is up to both drivers and pedestrians to keep people safe.  Be a safe pedestrian and put down your phone when walking.  Pay attention to the traffic around you and only cross at lights and crosswalks when it is safe to do so.  Learn more about pedestrian safety tips in the following from the Ontario Medical Association.

Ontario Medical Association:  Pedestrian Safety

This is the final day of the 30 Day Healthy Brain Challenge.  How did you do?

We hope you enjoyed the activities and encourage you to do them on a regular basis to help create a healthier brain over time.  If you missed the challenge, start today!  Visit the 30 Day Healthy Brain Challenge page on our blog to learn more.

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30 Day Healthy Brain Challenge: Day 29

Holy Guacamole!  Eat Some Avocado

Avocados are an extremely nutritious fruit providing potassium, fiber, B vitamins, vitamin C, protein, healthy fats and more.  Often overlooked in our diet, avocados also can help boost the brain.  Take a look at the following from Alzheimers.net to learn more about the brain boosting benefits of avocados and for some delicious recipes.

Alzheimers.net:  10 Avocado Recipes for Brain Health

Be sure to join the 30 Day Healthy Brain Challenge, complete each day’s activity and let us know your progress!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June is Brain Injury Awareness Month and in recognition Solutions for Living is introducing the 30 Day Healthy Brain Challenge. We challenge you to complete these 30 simple activities and tips which when incorporated into your lifestyle can help improve memory, boost mental health, prevent brain injury and reduce cognitive decline.

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30 Day Healthy Brain Challenge: Day 28

Take the Pledge – Don’t Text and Drive!

Did you know that 40% of Acquired Brain Injuries are the result of an automobile accident?  And, that texting while driving is basically like driving with your eyes closed for 5 full seconds?  Distracted driving is a major cause of injury and fatalities on our roads.  Learn more in our previous post, LOL…OMG…RIP, and say I Don’t to distracted driving by taking the pledge at www.idont.ca.

Be sure to join the 30 Day Healthy Brain Challenge, complete each day’s activity and let us know your progress!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June is Brain Injury Awareness Month and in recognition Solutions for Living is introducing the 30 Day Healthy Brain Challenge. We challenge you to complete these 30 simple activities and tips which when incorporated into your lifestyle can help improve memory, boost mental health, prevent brain injury and reduce cognitive decline.

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30 Day Healthy Brain Challenge: Day 27

Game Time!

Board games aren’t just for kids!  Playing a board game can be a fun activity to do as a family, with friends or even on your own.  Playing a board game can help boost your mood, reduce stress, and improve memory and concentration.  Learn more about the health benefits of board games in the following from Health Fitness Revolution and make time to play one today — you’re brain will thank you!

Health Fitness Revolution: Top 10 Health Benefits of Board Games

Be sure to join the 30 Day Healthy Brain Challenge, complete each day’s activity and let us know your progress!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June is Brain Injury Awareness Month and in recognition Solutions for Living is introducing the 30 Day Healthy Brain Challenge. We challenge you to complete these 30 simple activities and tips which when incorporated into your lifestyle can help improve memory, boost mental health, prevent brain injury and reduce cognitive decline.

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30 Day Healthy Brain Challenge: Day 26

Have a Handful of Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds, or pepitas, are full of healthy nutrients including protein, zinc, magnesium and Omega-3 fatty acids.  They are known to be helpful for your brain and can also help you have a better night’s sleep.  You can eat them as a snack, add to granola, bake with them and more.  Take a look at the following recipes care of Bon Appetit to help you find ways to incorporate these super-seeds into your diet.

Bon Appetit:  Pumpkins, These 30 Recipes Are Just Using You for Your Seeds

Be sure to join the 30 Day Healthy Brain Challenge, complete each day’s activity and let us know your progress!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June is Brain Injury Awareness Month and in recognition Solutions for Living is introducing the 30 Day Healthy Brain Challenge. We challenge you to complete these 30 simple activities and tips which when incorporated into your lifestyle can help improve memory, boost mental health, prevent brain injury and reduce cognitive decline.