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Archive for category: Original Posts

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What to Look for in a Backpack

Backpacks are a staple for every student. They travel back and forth between home and school, lugging books and school supplies. They are put through the unavoidable daily abuse of being thrown on the ground, trampled on, stuffed into a cubby or locker, saving a spot in line, and become over-stretched and over-used with the necessities of school. They are a necessary part of your child’s education, yet how much thought do you really put into the backpack your child wears aside from maybe price or color?  Have you considered the health implications of an improperly worn, fitted, or poorly supportive backpack?

Learn what to look for in a backpack to ensure optimal support in the following infographic:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information on how to select a backpack, proper fit and use watch our OT-V episode, Backpack Safety Guidelines.

 

Summer Programming Note:

Summer vacation is here and we will be taking a break from our regular schedule.  We will be posting some of our popular seasonal blogs just once a week throughout the summer but will resume our regular three weekly posts in September, filled with new and exciting content including our popular O-Tip of Week series.

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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 recently 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.

Originally posted July, 2013.

Summer Programming Note:

Summer vacation is here and we will be taking a break from our regular schedule.  We will be posting some of our popular seasonal blogs just once a week throughout the summer but will resume our regular three weekly posts in September, filled with new and exciting content including our popular O-Tip of Week series.

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No You May NOT Wait in the Car

Have your children ever asked you if they could just wait in the car while you run into the bank, grocery store or post office?  Though it may seem like a short trip where kids would be safe, they may not be.

In keeping with our posts about summer health and safety, I thought I would touch on another very tragic, but preventable, circumstance surrounding cars and children.  It was the first very hot and humid day a few summers ago when I heard of the death of a two-year-old after his grandmother left him in the car.  She just forgot he was there and went about her day.  While it might seem inconceivable that this could happen to any caring and well-intentioned adult, I read an article recently that helped me to understand how possible this is.

Several years ago a mother in Calgary was returning to her job as a University Professor after a one-year maternity leave following the birth of her second child.  She was a well-educated and diligent mother that did everything she could to protect the safety of her children during pregnancy, at home, and in the community. With her return to work the family had to adopt a new routine.  She dropped her older child at day care and proceeded to take her daughter (11 months) to her new child care provider.  The mother and daughter were singing and laughing in the car when the child fell asleep.  The mother then spent the next several minutes putting together a very detailed mental plan of how she was going to get her child out of the car seat and into the day care without waking her.  Once she visualized that process, and understood how it would all work, her mind rapidly switched to thoughts about her first week back at work and all the things she needed to accomplish.  She arrived at work, went about her day, and realized when she came to her car to go home that her daughter was still in the car seat.

Her purpose of engaging in the interview and having the article published was to help people understand how this could happen and how it can be prevented.  For her, she believes that the process of “visualizing” the drop off of her daughter made her mind believe that it actually happened.  When her mind switched to thinking about work, it was convinced that her other responsibilities had been completed.  This is the power of visualization, and of a distracted mind.

But I feel the most important aspect of the article were the strategies for prevention.  The mother went on to have other children and talked openly about the steps she now takes to ensure she does not relive this tragedy.  She explained that she always makes sure she puts something in the back seat with her children.  Her purse, work bag, lunch. This requires her to enter the back seat of her car when getting out.  Or, the opposite could also work – put a diaper bag, toy or child backpack in the front seat to cue you to their presence.  This mother also said she has asked her child care providers to call her directly if her children are not dropped off on time, as expected.  Lastly, when putting her children in their car seat she puts on a bracelet that is kept in the seat.  She takes it off when getting them out. This serves as a visual cue, but has also become part of her new car seat routine that will reinforce a new behavior (put the bracelet back in the car seat when leaving the vehicle, making her access the seat).

According to WebMD “there is no safe amount of time to leave a child (or pet) in a car”.  The temperature inside a car can rise or fall exponentially faster than the temperature outside, as your car functions as a greenhouse.  Just get in your car on a hot day and try to breathe.  Preventing child death from being left in a car is possible, and parents need to be wary of new routines, changes in schedules, and the cognitive process of remembering multiple things.  And most of all, don’t be naïve enough to believe the self-fulfilling “this could never happen to me” phenomenon.  Any oversight, regardless of how significant, can happen to us all.

 

Summer Programming Note:

Summer vacation is here and we will be taking a break from our regular schedule.  We will be posting some of our popular seasonal blogs just once a week throughout the summer but will resume our regular three weekly posts in September, filled with new and exciting content including our popular O-Tip of Week series.

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Swimming Safety: Rules for Pools

In celebration of summer, I wanted to re-share this infographic on pool safety. These helpful tips and tools are good things to review and consider, ensuring you, your friends and loved ones are safe and enjoy some fun in the sun this summer!  Remember, when it comes to children, nothing is safer than diligent and attentive supervision.

 

Previously posted July 2017

Summer Programming Note:

Summer vacation is here and we will be taking a break from our regular schedule.  We will be posting some of our popular seasonal blogs just once a week throughout the summer but will resume our regular three weekly posts in September, filled with new and exciting content including our popular O-Tip of Week series.

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Summer Reading Challenge

It can be difficult to keep children’s minds stimulated during the summer months and often many children suffer summer brain drain.  One of the best ways to put a plug on this drain is to encourage regular reading.  Encourage your child to set a SMART Goal for how many books they plan to read this summer and keep track using our free printable summer reading log.  Be sure to build in rewards when your child is on track and when they meet their goal!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Programming Note:

Summer vacation is here and we will be taking a break from our regular schedule.  We will be posting some of our popular seasonal blogs just once a week throughout the summer but will resume our regular three weekly posts in September, filled with new and exciting content including our popular O-Tip of Week series.

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Fun Ways to Encourage Learning Over the Summer Months

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:

Previously posted July 2017

Summer Programming Note:

Summer vacation is here and we will be taking a break from our regular schedule. We will be posting some of our popular seasonal blogs just once a week throughout the summer but will resume our regular three weekly posts in September, filled with new and exciting content including our popular O-Tip of Week series.

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Summer Can be Stressful: Reduce Stress with These Top Tips

As Canadians, we are well-known for making the most of our short summer months! We often fill them with day trips, weekends away, and vacations with family or friends. However,  this summer fun can also bring on “summer stress” with all of the errand running, planning, organization and co-ordination that’s required to make that summer fun possible. Everyone sees and defines “stress” differently, but whether you recognize these additional demands as being “stressful” or not, they certainly weigh on our minds and add to the mental list of things we need to accomplish and manage in our days.

So what can Occupational Therapy do to help? Stress management is one area where Occupational Therapists can make suggestions that are helpful.  These suggestions can help you to get the most fun from your summer, while preventing and managing the inevitable summer stress. Below you will find some general examples of the kinds of Occupational Therapy strategies that can help you limit and manage your summer stressors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Programming Note:

Summer vacation is here and we will be taking a break from our regular schedule.  We will be posting some of our popular seasonal blogs just once a week throughout the summer but will resume our regular three weekly posts in September, filled with new and exciting content including our popular O-Tip of Week series.

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O-Tip of the Week: Limit Distractions

Our O-Tip of the week series we will be providing valuable “OT-Approved Life Hacks” to provide you with simple and helpful solutions for living. 

Occupational Therapists are a vital part of a team of professionals that assist with the rehabilitation from brain injury.  For the month of June, Brain Injury Awareness Month, our series will be providing solutions to assist with some of the many symptoms of brain injury. 

When recovering from a brain injury distractions may be more significant than pre-injury.  Because of this, it can be difficult to get anything done. When attempting to complete a task try to minimize all distractions allowing your full concentration to be focused on the task at hand.  Turn off televisions, radios, your cell phone and attempt to focus fully on what you need to do.