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Archive for category: Sports and Leisure

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Warning: Long Weekend Ahead!

Warning:  Long Weekend ahead!  This warning is one we re-post every year as, unfortunately, many need a reminder to make smart and safe choices during this first long weekend of the season.

While the Victoria Day long weekend is often a kick-off to summer, it is also known as one of the deadliest weekends in Canada.  Impaired driving and boating numbers are highly elevated during long weekends and MADD Canada estimates that impaired driving kills between 1,250 and 1,500 people every year, and injures more than 63,000 in Canada.  The following PSA is a great reminder of the effects drinking and driving can have on your life and on the life of someone else.

So please, while you enjoy this first long weekend of the season, think smart and be safe.  Don’t drink and drive.

 

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O-Tip of the Week: Need Some Motivation? Phone a Friend!

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. 

Spring has finally sprung and it’s time to add some healthy activity to your life.  So, for the month of May, our series will be providing tips to help you get physical!

One of the best ways to get and stay motivated to be active is to exercise with a friend.  Find yourself a “workout buddy” to go to the gym or latest yoga class with, or to walk or run together.  Having a friend to exercise with can keep you determined and accountable!

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One in Five Youth Struggle with Mental Health Problems – Do you Know the Signs?

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

I was recently reviewing my daughter’s school handbook and noticed the section on child and youth mental health.  According to this (and the Canadian Mental Association) 1 in 5 children and youth struggle with mental health problems.  While great strides have been made over the last several years to destigmatize and demystify mental health problems in both adults and kids, I feel this remains generally misunderstood.  In my practice, I still see the common misperceptions that people with anxiety don’t leave the house or appear nervous and anxious in public, or that people with depression sleep all day, don’t attend to their appearance, and sit around crying and feeling sorry for themselves.  The truth is that mental health is a spectrum, or a continuum if you will.  It can vary and no one’s experience will be the same.  In children, mental health problems can present differently.

As per the handbook I was reading, the signs might include:

·        Anxiety and fear that does not go away

·        Frequent crying and weepiness

·        Loss of interest in activities that were a source of pleasure in the past

·        Difficulty concentrating

·        Lack of energy or motivation

·        Problems at school with falling marks

·        Withdrawal from family, friends and school activities

·        Increased school absences

·        Loss or increase in appetite

·        Sleeping too much or too little

·        Increased irritability, anger or aggression

·        Neglect of personal appearance

·        Frequent stomach aches or headaches

·        Increased alcohol or drug use

In general, parents should be able to monitor most of these and overt changes might be obvious (suddenly disconnecting from friends, drastic changes in grades, behavior change at home, quitting enjoyed activities, not eating food or participating in meal times, etc).  But like with the continuum of mental health in adults, some of these might present some days and not others, or be so subtle that they deteriorate very slowly over time.   As parents of teens we need to be the barometer for our kids as they may lack the ability to relate some of these signs to mental health or internal struggle.

Luckily, in Southern Ontario anyway, I see the mental health problems of kids being taken seriously and there are publicly funded community supports available.  But getting your child connected with these can be the challenge.  It can be hard to convince a teen to do anything they don’t agree with, let alone getting them to the myriad of appointments with doctors and clinicians that can help.

Occupational therapy plays many roles in helping kids and teens address issues with mental health.  While some occupational therapists are trained to provide psychotherapy, others use meaningful and enjoyable tasks to help with mood elevation, reactivation and reengagement.  We are skilled at looking beyond the obvious to get a better sense of what might help at home, school or in the community to get your child or teen on track.  Sometimes it is as simple as helping them to reorganize their school work, create a process for managing assignments and tests, teaching them how to study in a way that works for them based on their learning style, or even looking at how their week is managed to make changes.  Occupational therapists tackle things like sleep / wake schedules, eating and diet, activity participation, grades and school success, managing friends and relationships, motivation through engagement, and dealing with negative pressures that create more stress and anxiety.

My advice if you are concerned about your child?  Start with your family doctor and discuss your concerns, even if your child won’t attend with you.  Involve the school in your concerns to get their support and guidance, after all your child spends several hours a day in their supervision and care.  Teachers can be a great resource and form of support as well, but you need to open those lines of communication.  Don’t expect the school to come to you – often they don’t.  If your child is in crisis, call your local Crisis Outreach and Support Team (COAST) and ask them for help.  They can (and should) also connect you and your child to other community programs.

If you have coverage for mental health treatment for your teen (extended benefits, other insurance funding, out-of-pocket), including occupational therapy, consider enlisting a private therapist.  Private therapy often provides a larger scope of service, is more specialized, and can be provided over a prolonged period if appropriate.  Any good private therapist will try to work themselves out of a job by getting your child on track as quickly as possible and they will want you to immediately feel the benefit of their involvement.  Also, if you have private dollars or insurance coverage, I would suggest a psycho-educational assessment.  These are extremely thorough “brain tests” that look at all aspects of how your child processes information, manages cognitive tasks and addresses the complicated relationship between our brain and our emotions.  The outcome of these assessments can be extremely helpful and will provide both you as a family, and the school, with suggestions for how to best help your child to succeed.

I have always said watching my kids grow up is the best and worst part of parenting.  It is especially heart-wrenching if your child is struggling.  Watch for the signs, talk to your child and get them (and you!) support if they need it.

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O-Tip of the Week: Time to Get Physical!

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. 

Spring has finally sprung and it’s a great time to add some healthy activity to your life.  So, for the month of May, our series will be providing tips to help you get physical!

When it comes to exercising regularly one of the biggest stumbling blocks for many is time.  Many find that there is no time in their busy and hectic lives to incorporate exercise.  So what’s the key to overcoming this obstacle?  Schedule it in!  Like you would schedule a meeting or an appointment, schedule in an hour or ½ hour daily for some sort of physical activity.

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Rowan’s Law: New Legislation to Help Protect Young Athletes

Rowan Stringer was an avid rugby player who died in 2013 at the young age of 17.  Rowan’s death maybe have been prevented had undiagnosed concussions been recognized and strict policies been followed, however, at that time none were in place.  Since Rowan’s death, her parents have worked tirelessly to create change that can save the lives of others.  Rowan’s Law, a new legislation that will provide education to athletes, parents and coaches, requires the removal of an athlete from a game if a concussion is suspected, and ensures no athlete can return to the sport until medically cleared to do so. 

Learn more about the new law, Rowan, and her family’s dedication to seeing this new legislation get passed in the following from the Globe and Mail. 

The Globe and Mail:  Rowan’s law: How a teenager’s concussion-related death will help save lives

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Top 10 Tips for a Stress-Free Holiday Season

December is, legitimately, the most stressful month of the year. Shopping and presents, food preparation, cards, socializing, crowds, different schedules and routines, decorations, spending, pressure to buy the right thing for the right person – and not forgetting anyone.

I wanted to offer some practical suggestions to reduce stress and help you enjoy the holiday season this year.  Here are Julie’s TOP 10 TIPS based on my own experiences as a busy mom, but also as an occupational therapist who often helps people to break down tasks into more manageable, and less stressful chunks:

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How to Have a Safe Halloween

Tuesday is Halloween, a night when children dressed monsters, witches, superheroes and more hit the streets to Trick or Treat.  While Halloween can be a fun night for both kids and adults, there are many dangers associated with it.  Learn some valuable Halloween safety tips in the following from Safe Kids Worldwide to ensure your little ghosts and goblins have a fun and safe Halloween night!

Safe Kids Worldwide:  Halloween Safety Tips

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A Step in the Right Direction — Forward

The Forward Movement, an advocacy group, is working hard to raise awareness and make change in Ontario.  The group is working to have Ontario officially adopt the Dynamic Symbol of Access to replace the currently used International Symbol of Access.  Why?  The dynamic symbol shows action and movement symbolizing differing abilities and can help to change the way society views disability.

It was all about the disability, and not about the person,” says Dylan Itzikowitz, co-founder of The Forward Movement, about the current symbol.

Learn more about The Forward Movement in the following article from CBC News.

CBC News:  Accessibility activists want to ditch iconic symbol highlighting the wheelchair, not the person

How can you support The Forward Movement?  Sign the petition, make a donation, follow The Forward Movement on social media, and/or become a Proud Partner like us.  Learn more about these great ways to get involved by visiting www.theforwardmovement.ca.