Friday, January 27, 2012

All Hands on Deck

This semester we have started to learn manual muscle testing (MMT) and how to take range of motion (ROM) with a tape measure and a goniometer. It is really exciting to start to get hands on. So far we have only done the neck for range of motion, but we have done the trunk and neck for MMT. It is amazing how important practice is. I was practicing with friends after class today, and it was amazing how many different times we had to rearrange our bodies to be able to take the measurements. An experienced practitioner would know exactly how to position themselves, and the right order to do all the testing, so that the impact on the client was minimal. Book learning is only going to get you so far on these skills.

Today in mental health we formed four different groups for different projects. Group work is a big part of occupational therapy school. Group selection is a little different in the second semester. People have friends that they like to work with, other people want to work with people they do not hang out with, and sometimes people who like to get work done early seek the others who like to get work done early. Let's hope all these projects run smoothly.

The other big happening this week is we got to meet the family that is building the house that we are help designing. I am assigned to work on the bedroom for a 15 year old boy with Duchene Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). I was a little disappointed because he spends most of his time in the common areas currently, but I know we are going to make his room so awesome that he is going to spend all his time there. I have a to-do list that is a mile long, so I should get a start on that. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Darius Goes West

We watched this documentary in one of my classes. I thought it was amazing. You should definitely check it out. It is the story of a boy with muscular dystrophy that wants to get his wheelchair pimped by MTV's show "Pimp My Ride". With the help of some friends a three week cross country trip in a RV from Athens, GA to Los Angeles, CA and back was planned to try to convince MTV to trick out the wheelchair. They also filmed a documentary to bring awareness to muscular dystrophy and wheelchair accessibility. It is an eye-opening and heart touching film.

The story that struck me most from the film was Darius, the boy with muscular dystrophy, was dared by some of the crew (comprised of his friends) to eat a spoonful of wasabi. Darius was not one to back down from a bet. However, someone else in the restaurant yelled at the crew for picking on Darius. Darius in no way felt picked on and felt like he was just hanging out with his friends. It was just a strong reminder that people in wheelchairs do not want to be coddled or pitied, but be part of the gang.

The film brings up wonderful perspectives on wheelchair accessibility, living with muscular dystrophy, and living your life the fullest. If you want to check it out you can go to to purchase the film and learn more.   

Here is a preview:

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Spring Lineup

First week of spring classes are happening this week, and it kind of feels like spring here in Georgia. This semester we take five classes, plus a one week fieldwork in the realm of mental health. Previous students and professors warn that this semester is a lot of work. It is also said that a lot of practical knowledge is learned now, and it is a lot of fun.

The first class I have is mental health programming. This class is going to focus on assessments and interventions used in mental health. It appears that the big project in this class is to lead a group session. The group will consist of other classmates pretending to have different dysfunction. I am worried about this class because I feel like mental health is very emotional and that is not one of my strong suits. I feel like I am going to be challenged often.

Next we have Assistive Technology and Therapeutic Adaptations. I am really excited about this class. We have to do a home and community assessment on wheelchair accessibility. We perform this by actually taking a wheelchair out to one of our homes and somewhere in the community. We also have a family we are working with that is building a new home for their son with muscular dystrophy. We are helping design the home. The class is broken up into different groups to design different rooms. We still have to work together to make it cohesive. I am working on the son's bedroom. I am so excited. We get to do something with a real client. The families they have done in the past have implemented most of the changes that the students suggested. We also have to develop an assistive device for a real person of our choosing. There is a fair where patent lawyers will examine our devices as well as the professors. The have had seven ideas patented from past years due to this project. This project still scares me because I have no idea what I am going to do yet.

I am also taking movement analysis. The professor is making the class a lot of fun, but it is mostly a lecture and exam class. Did you know swinging your arms allows you to walk faster than if your arms were crossed in front of you or in your pockets? Also walking develops more core and leg muscle strength than running. Who would of known?

Kinesiology is my next course. The big project in this course is to make a movie analyzing a ten second movement. You never think of all the coordination that goes into a seeming simple task, such as brushing your hair. There are also a lot of labs involved in this course. I am ready to try some hands on stuff.

The last class is neuroscience. We are focusing on the anatomy of the brain first, but then we move into how it works. That is the stuff I like. This is the only time we will have a professor that is not an OT other than anatomy. It is going to offer some different perspectives.

It's a strong line up of courses. Here's to hoping I can handle it all!