Work after hours

One of my coworkers recently was talking about how her parents were accustomed to a 'teacher's lifestyle of leisure' where they left work at 3, had summers off, and did not spend time outside of school working on lesson plans or grades. I thought this was ironic because my father is a teacher, yet he spends untold hours reworking lesson plans, adding technology into the classroom, and generally trying to improve his teaching and the environment for the students. It is uncommon for him to have a day, let alone a whole summer, where he is not working to take things to a higher level. To me, this highlights a basic difference in mindset about ones work. Does your job merely require effort from 9-5? I know that there have been lots of days where I come home from work exhausted, and all I can bear to do is try to make it to the couch or defrost something for dinner. If it's been a particularly stressful day at work, I might not want to even think about going back. But I try to spend some time every week working on something, be it reading OT Practice, looking up some diagnoses on the internet. This is what I see as the difference between a job and a professional career. If you see your job as 'just a job,' then there's no problem if you aren't spending extra time working to develop yourself or your position. But when you become a member a of profession, I feel that you have a duty to yourself, the other members of the profession, and those consumers that are affected by the profession. This duty compels you work on improving yourself and your station for the benefit for all involved. This is why continuing education is required of OTs, because it is a professional duty to continue improving yourself. If you just 'turn off' everyday after work because OT is 'just a job,' then you are going to become stagnant and your coworkers and clients will suffer. There's always something to work on for self improvement- learn more about a new diagnosis, learn a new treatment for an old diagnosis, learn about a new practice area. If you have an expertise, then share it and help others improve. If you stop learning, then you will stop growing, and I believe your practice and your person will suffer as an end result.


Chicken Dance!

I realized that I haven't had very many inspirational stories to share lately, so I decided to dig into the vault to start the week off with a pleasant reminiscence. On my last level 2 fieldwork, we got a particularly challenging patient into our rehab. Ms P had recently had a shoulder arthroplasty, but she had a complicated medical history. She was intellectually disabled and mostly nonverbal. My supervisor was cotreating her with PT, trying to get PROM done on her sore arm, which didn't work out very well, ever. She would resist and scream at them, sometimes she would just get up and walk out of the gym. When my supervisor left on vacation, Ms P's rehab fell to me. I tried a few activities, trying to get her to use her arm functionally since she was so resistant to painful PROM. One day I had the idea to try to teach her the chicken dance. The wing motion would get the shoulder abduction I needed and I substituted in a holding hands motion that got some shoulder flexion and extension. Ms P let me assist her arm through the different movements as we danced and sang in the rehab gym. We may have looked goofy, but we finally had a reliable way to get those exercises done. Always great when you can take a new look at old treatments. Happy new week, everyone :)


Are therapists the worst patients?

I know my updates have been a little rare lately, I have, unfortunately been having a lot of pain recently. Muscles in the low back, upper back, neck and shoulders have all be yelling for some attention lately. This leads me (aka- biggest worrier in the world) wondering what actions from my occupations at home or work have played a role in the pains, whether I'm using bad body mechanics trying to transfer people, whether I'm sleeping wrong, whether my computer station is setup wrong etc etc.

Outside of my worries related specifically to pain, I have started to ponder about therapists who find themselves in the role of patient. It has been well researched that patients do not like or follow an extensive home exercise program. I'd say that there is also a strong anecdotal base at least that indicates that medical professionals (including PT/OT) will often put off getting help for physical ailments in favor of self-diagnosis. I know that this is a habit of mine that I'm halfheartedly trying to break, but it's a lot easier to grab the ultrasound machine and rub it on your knee for ten minutes than to get an official referral for someone else to do it.

But there are occasions when the medical professional finds themselves at the hands of their peers. You've seen the retired nurse admitted to the hospital who often bemoans the current staff. But how does the therapist react to being the therapy patient? Are they more likely to participate, follow their HEP to the letter, and use equipment for ADLs? Do they refuse OT treatment? Or are the largest changes seen after a person has been on the receiving end- do they change their practice in some way after a revelation of what treatment is really like?

The only time I had therapy for myself was in high school, for a twisted ankle. I can recall several exercises that I only did once. At the point that I got basic function back and was off my crutches, exercises became a faint memory. Years later, as the ankle routinely tightens up, I wish I had done the exercises. Yet even now, I know pilates/yoga/therapy exercises that would help my back if I did them everyday, I have a membership at the wellness center and a customized weightlifting plan, I have access to a warm water pool. I haven't (as of yet) started vigorously persuing any of these. It's hard to work out when you are tired after work, in pain, or just want to relish your minimal down time. Hopefully I will break the cycle.