3.31.2009

a human behavior refresher

The recent moving situation has been giving my empathy organ a refresher.
Basic psych/neuro instructs that our brain forms schemas to help us understand situations. Tied in there are the motor plans for different actions and the mental maps to help navigate the environment. When these systems work perfectly, we perform actions without even thinking about it- like sitting down in a chair, touch typing, or walking to the bathroom. This is how most people spend the majority of their days, performing routine tasks without being mentally or physically challenged in the least, not devoting even 1 additional brain cell to the task.

However, the people that I see in the hospital are experiencing disruptions in these schemas. It's easy for staff to forget that their patients are not always disoriented x2, struggling to sit down, struggling with walker usage, and just generally getting confused. But this is often just a variation of a person thrown into an unfamiliar situation. Example: I moved. Everything is in a different place. Our bathrooms have a marble threshold, which I am terribly worried about breaking my toes on. Because when you wake up in the middle of the night and walk without turning the light on, you're relying on those old brain maps to get around. And my brain map does not include marble thresholds!

Another recent situation is reminiscent of what pts with joint replacement are going through. I have started exercising again, and hopefully will stick with it, or else my friend may drive out here just to kick my butt. I have been in the Contemplation stage of the Transtheoretical Model of Change for some time, but have spent the past 2 days in Action! Action is a phase that makes muscles hurt and act in different ways... and trying to motor plan simple actions like sitting down, getting out of bed, or going down stairs when your quadriceps have failed to respond in a normal manner is very difficult! So as I require 2 handholds and a dramatically increased amount of time to accomplish sitting or navigating stairs, I think of those who have had surgeons hands pulling their muscles apart and shoving in new bone parts in the last 24 hours.

So I am resolving to start my new job with a renewed sense of empathy, considering that like my pts, I will be in an unfamiliar environment and unsure of things.


3 comments:

Buckeyebrit said...

Hey Cheryl, have you thought about doing a post for the blog carnival? http://occupationaltherapycarnival.blogspot.com/

Cheryl said...

I have and fully intend to... I am still new to the carnival concept. My plan is to finally write up my reasoning for the job site analysis I did. Definitely on the TTD list.

healthskills said...

Oh a GREAT post. I love this one! and yes it would be so nice to have a post on the carnival from you too.
I use TTM a lot for working with people with chronic pain, so it's great to see how you've applied it to yourself!