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Injuries from wearing heavy backpacks are not common in school-aged children

According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, heavy backpacks can cause serious injury to children.  The AOTA claims that heavy loads carried by 79 million students across the United States "can cause low back pain that often lasts through adulthood."  The AOTA also claims that according to 2013 statistics from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission nearly 22,200 strains, sprains, dislocations, and fractures from backpacks were treated in hospital emergency rooms, physicians' offices, and clinics.  (Source: https://www.aota.org/Conference-Events/Backpack-Safety-Awareness-Day/Handouts/Infographic-Injury-Stats.aspx )

This level of severe concern was surprising to me.  I am an occupational therapist and I have been treating children for 30 years, and I have never encountered a single incident of strain, sprain, dislocation, or fracture caused by wearing a heavy backpack.  That is just anecdote, and I found it confusing, so I set out to learn a little more …

There is no app to solve this problem.

Her eyes still blurry from the night's rest, Emily reached for the beeping phone that alarmed her into wakefulness at precisely 6:00am each day.  Barely able to focus, but still noticing the tightness of her FitBit around her wrist, she swiped around her phone until she could find her SleepTracking app.  Noticing that she was restless and had 20% less REM sleep than the night before, she quickly determined that she was exhausted.

She glanced at the time.  6:01am.

"Alexa, what is my first appointment today?" she asked into the air.  She loved the syncing between her work calendar into her home.  "You have a meeting at 8am and a reminder to call Ella's teacher before 9am."  

Emily heard a sudden alert from her phone, indicating that her phone call with the teacher has been labeled as a stress event, based on previously collected data on heart rate changes based on time and event.  Her wellness app automatically scheduled 15 minutes of meditation prior to the pho…

Case study: Demise of a professional membership organization

Unless there are dramatic changes in statistical trends, the New York State Occupational Therapy Association may face insolvency and may be forced into dissolution in the very near future.

Two years ago I reported that the NY State OT Association was at a critical juncture. At that time, only 4.4% of all NY practitioners were members of the group.  During the period of time from 2006 through 2014 NYSOTA OT/OTA membership declined 24%.   The decreasing trend of participation is continuing.

According to statistics published by NYSOTA, now there are only 379 OT members and 120 OTA members.  In consideration of the total of OT practitioners in NY State (17,318 total) that is a membership participation rate of 2.9%.  This is decreased from the rate two years ago of 4.4%

According to publicly available financial information (Form 990), NYSOTA's net assets are in free fall.


YEAR      NET ASSETS
----------------------------------
2012        $180,045
2013        $135,154
2014        $107,…

OT History in Clifton Springs!

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A group of people made OT History today - pulling off an amazing day of celebration in Clifton Springs that was enjoyed by so many attendees.

Eighteen months ago I started corresponding with Steve Egidi, an occupational therapist and Vice President of the Clifton Springs Chamber of Commerce.  He invited me to join a working group that was forming to help make plans for  the 100th OT Anniversary Celebration in Clifton Springs.  Steve was a steady organizing force for the group and it was a real pleasure getting to work with him.

Also from the Chamber was Jeff Criblear, President of the Clifton Springs Chamber of Commerce.  Jeff did amazing work with restoring the 50th anniversary plaque and also helping to coordinate so many of the Centennial celebration activities with the Clifton Springs community.

The glue behind the entire project was undoubtedly Jamie Noga, Coordinator from the Clifton Springs Chamber of Commerce.  Jamie did it all - she kept us all organized and on track, manag…

Re-post: The Passion from a kid's perspective

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A story worth re-posting:

A fairly standard component of my pediatric occupational therapy evaluations is to ask the child to draw a picture of themselves. This assessment technique provides an opportunity to evaluate the child's skill with writing and also is a functional assessment of their cognitive and perceptual ability.

Sometimes kids draw things that just beg to be probed and questioned - as was the case recently. I watched intently as 6 year old Patrick drew a representation of himself, but then he began adding odd details to his picture. First he colored dark spots on his figure's hands and feet, and then added a row of X's across the forehead.

I leaned forward and quizzically asked, "Patrick, what are these marks here?"

He looked at me for a moment and then responded: "Jesus died for you, you know. He got nailed to a cross, in his hands and his feet. My Dad said that he had to wear prickers on his head and it made him bleed."

"…

The meaning of a word cloud

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This image caught my attention when I attended the Presidential Address at the AOTA national conference in Philadelphia last week, and it has been tweeted around in occupational therapy circles since that time.


The question is - what does it mean?

The AOTA president discussed population health as a concept that she believes will be integral to occupational therapy's future vision.  Unfortunately, this vision has more to do with a misguided alignment with payment models (Triple Aim) than anything to do with patient care.

This unusual vision has been promoted by other occupational therapists and also discussed extensively in this blog here and here and here and here, to link a few.

What exactly is the meaning of this word cloud?  The initial intent of word clouds was to provide a base narrative analysis of content within written text.  Even at their best they are crude, because the words are presented in a decontextualized format.

In this example the word cloud is a manipulative mes…

The danger of assuming universal and singular narrative explanations of disability

In a recent article appearing on the CNN website, author Wayne Drash reviews the concept of 'wrongful birth' in context of Lesli, a person who has developmental disabilities.  Drash's profile states that he "specializes in stories off the radar" and that "his passion is to tell narratives about life and the unfolding drama of the world we live in."

It would be more accurate to state that Drash cherry picked one person's perspective and advanced a fiction that serves one ideological perspective.

His initial description of Lesli in his opening sentence tells us everything he believes about her person-hood.  He immediately goes to the 'fetal position' trope that promotes his message of Lesli's helplessness and haplessness.

For just a moment the reader is led to believe that there may be another side of the story to be told as he describes Lesli's joy at having her mother hold her hand - but the author quickly reverts to reporting the p…