Monthly Archives: March 2016

Using Tone to Our Advantage

When the occupational therapist and I get a child with high muscle tone, we can use this to serve us instead of it being a hindrance.   A child with high tone can at times can have the ability to support their weight and sit up to use the AAC device.   Children with high tone typically would need a subbases bar to counter act the tone in order to be able to sit comfortably, but they can do more than someone with no tone at all.   As a mentor with high tone myself, I work closely with the occupational therapist and doctors on medicine to reduce my mentee’s tone to make them more comfortable but at the same time keep some of the tone to maintain functionality.

I work with the mentee and ask them what feels right to them as they know their body better than we do.   The clients would usually express a fear of losing too much tone as to not being able to do transfers and control their wheelchairs and talkers.   I totally relate to the fear as I am considering getting a Baclofen pump to ease my muscle spasticity, which could lessen my tone and that is one of my fears.   I am on the care team as I have a firsthand experience in what it is like to have significant physical disabilities.   The child and I do a lot of talking about what would feel right to them, and we are usually able to figure out a balance.   It is important for the occupational therapist to listen to the client as they have taught themselves to use their tone to function in life, therefore we don’t want to take that away from them.

At times I can get away with not adjusting their muscle relaxer and just add a subbases bar to cut some of the tone.   The reduced tone helps the child to be more comfortable because they have less pain related to the tone which makes transfers and operating assistive technologies easier.   The reduced tone also helps me when I am fitting communication devices to the clients, as they are able to easily access the talker.     As occupational therapists and mentors we can use different types of tone to serve our clients and if they have no muscle tone we can get very sensitive technology that only requires a slight touch to work.

Until Next Time,  Enjoy Your Children

Occupational Therapist: Comfort

As occupational therapists and mentors, we have to make certain that our clients are comfortable using their equipment. A child needs to be positioned correctly and comfortably when using their power chair and communication device. I know from personal experience that incorrect positioning can have long term repercussions, which we certainly don’t want for our clients. I like to watch how my mentees are using their bodies when they drive their power chair or use their talker, as I can see if they are struggling or straining. If so, I can change the positioning of the equipment. If someone stays in a poor position for a long period of time, they can develop chronic pain or deformities, needing corrective surgery.
When my mentees are comfortable using their equipment, they are able to progress faster and get to their goal in a shorter period of time. Assistive technology allows the person to become acclimated to the tool faster and they are able to use it in their everyday life. I’ve had mentees in a great deal of pain, making them prone to getting sick but as soon as I made them comfortable, they became healthier. When you think about it, this makes sense because when someone exerts extra effort, putting more strain on the body, the body breaks down. We want the assistive technology to make their lives easier, not harder in the long run and sometimes it is just a matter of us changing the position of equipment!
An individual must be at ease when using tools that are supposed to make life easier. Otherwise, the tool is not doing its job. I give a client a month to become acclimated to a piece of equipment, or we try something else. As an occupational therapist, you want to prevent injuries which means trying different equipment and positions until the client is comfortable. If we can do that, we can potentially see a child grow up healthier and stronger, which is the greatest reward.
Until Next Time, Enjoy Your Children

Occupational Therapy: Positive Attitude

Positive Attitude
As occupational therapists and mentors, we can help our clients develop positive attitudes by helping them meet therapy goals quicker than they had hoped for. We say it and hear it all the time: a positive attitude helps the body to heal or improve much faster. By encouraging our clients to work on therapy goals, even through the pain they are experiencing, positive attitudes will shine through. I can encourage my mentees to work through the pain as they know I have severe back pain, as well and see that it’s possible to do. Positive attitudes help the clients to achieve goals faster or heal quicker, allowing them to move on to the next goal. My mentees with positive attitudes and a really good support system always get well much faster. I like to observe whether the position or movements practiced while using their device may affect their pain level or create a bad attitude towards therapy. I find that talking with my mentee about what is bothering them helps them to get their frustrations calmed. I like to discuss with my clients about my back pain and spasms, which helps them to see I am not asking them to do something, without understanding their pain.
The positive attitudes also make my job fun and enjoyable because I feed off the positivity of that when I’m dealing with my own pain. If we can facilitate our clients to have positive attitudes, it is going to help them feel better. Our ultimate goal is to help the client to feel better and to use whatever abilities they have to do some things independently. The population I see is pretty severe but with the right attitudes, they are for the most part, able to gain the ability to do many things independently, plus heal quicker. Children for the most part have positive attitudes which help in healing and achieving therapy goals faster. As professionals, we can encourage a ‘child-like’ playful, fun and happy attitude to facilitate healing.
Until Next Time, Enjoy Your Children