Archive for May, 2012

Wounded Soldiers Regaining their Independence

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012 by admin

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance!  This is the day that we honor all of the brave soldiers that lost their lives in war and those that continue to sacrifice themselves for our country.  Many of these men and women not only lost their partners and close friends to war, but some have experienced other personal loses as well.  Daily, countless soldiers are injured and have to cope with living the rest of their lives with a physical disability such as an amputation or severe burns.  Others have to face the devastating effects of a traumatic brain injury.  Whatever effect the war may have had on them, they are now forced to face life with a different perspective.  What was once automatic and relatively easy has now become a challenge.  These life altering experiences make it difficult for soldiers returning home to resume their lives with the same level of ease and independence.  As a result, they often require rehabilitative services to increase their level of functioning and regain their lost independence.  

 Since World War I, occupational therapists have helped injured soldiers to heal mentally and physically. They have trained soldiers with disabilities to regain skills they need in order to function on a daily basis, as depicted on the TIME Magazine’s article “America’s Next War”. As occupational therapists, our goal is to help individuals with disabilities become more independent in performing day to day activities.  These may include activities that are meaningful and/ or purposeful such as bathing, dressing, grooming, moving around the home independently, preparing a meal, or returning to work after an injury.  As well as, those activities considered enjoyable such as leisure ones. Home modification is an emerging area of practice in the field of occupational therapy and one that is helping soldiers with disabilities adjust to civilian life.  Occupational therapists are uniquely positioned to provide this specialized service thanks to their in-depth knowledge of human function, task analysis, and the effect of the physical environment on human capabilities.   An adaptation or modification can consist of something as simple as installing a grab bar in the bathroom for support; lowering kitchen cabinets for those who are in a wheelchair; or installing a chair lift for accessibility purposes.  Through the implementation of home modifications, injured soldiers can regain their independence and engage in those activities that are important to them.  As occupational therapists, it is rewarding to know that we are able to provide such a unique service to those soldiers who have so graciously given so much. 

By

Esther Gonzalez, M.S. OTR/L Bil TSHH
Adapting Spaces, LLC
egonzalez@adaptingspaces.com
1888-956-0077

Autism: Making “Sense” of the World

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012 by admin

Every day, thousands of people are affected by Autism.  Autism is a disorder that can affect an individual’s ability to interact with others and engage in their environment.  Many children with Autism have difficulty perceiving and interpreting sensory input around them.  From the moment we wake up until we go to sleep, we receive information through our senses.  The way our brain makes sense of this information effects the way we respond to certain experiences.  If we perceive something to be harmful, we avoid it.  If we perceive it as being enjoyable, we are more likely to engage in it.  For children with Autism, this can be a big problem.  This inability to make sense of their world interferes with their ability to interact with others and engage in their environment appropriately.  As a result, they may exhibit adverse behaviors such as tantrums, outbursts, avoidance, and ultimately seclusion.  This can limit the opportunities the family has to bond with their child.  There is a way to help these children cope with these environmental stressors and decrease the occurrences of these adverse reactions.  Modifying one’s home to include a “sensory room” is one effective way.  The sensory room is tailored to the individuals needs and can be used to relieve and/or help the person cope with these involuntary responses to certain stimuli.  It contains various stations with specific sensory equipment and activities that are “less threatening” to the child.  The room is inviting and relaxing; it helps soothe and calm the person.  Some examples of things found in a sensory room are: bean bags; fiber optic/ led lights; bubble tubes; vibration/ massage chairs; ball pit; swing; sensory stations with various textures; calming wall colors; music station; and child- friendly padded floors and/ or walls.  We as Occupational Therapists specialize in and are knowledgeable in this area.  We evaluate the child and their living environment; as well as, provide helpful suggestions to keep your child safe and independent while at home.  Adapting the environment to include a sensory room would give you and your child the opportunity to bond more and enable your child to interact more freely in his environment. 

 April was National Autism Awareness month.  In light of that, we decided to take the opportunity to educate the public on how home modifications can be used to help make your home more user- friendly for your autistic child by including a sensory room.  If you have any questions about how to cope with the adverse effects of sensory processing or modifying your home to include a sensory room, feel free to give us a call.

By 

Esther Gonzalez, M.S. OTR/L Bil TSHH
Adapting Spaces, LLC
egonzalez@adaptingspaces.com
1888-956-0077